Making the grade with eggs and bridges… Hampton students stand out at UTK Engineer’s Day

Published 1:44 am Saturday, November 2, 2019

Although they may be one of the smallest schools to compete at a high level, instructor Daniel Arnett’s class at Hampton High School continues to stand tall when the time comes for the cream of the crop to be announced.
Case in point was Hampton’s showing in the recent 2019 University of Tennessee-Knoxville’s Engineer’s Day competition in Knoxville where the students from Hampton finished at the top of the Balsa Wood Bridge Competiton and the Egg Drop competition.
In the Balsa wood competition, competitors had to design and construct the lightest bridge capable of supporting a given load over a given span. The bridge also had to allow the passage of one Hot Wheel’s car of any variety along the entire length.
When the competition results were announced, Macon Barden earned a second-place finish, Dalton Whitehead a third-place showing, and Marcus Crowe a fifth-place finish as the team captured three of the top five slots in the competition between 32 competitors.
More impressive was the schools competing as several were private schools like Memphis Academy of Science and Engineering, STEM Co-op, and L&N STEM Academy and larger public schools such as Alcoa High School, Cannon County, and Oak Ridge just to mention a few.
“There were certain lengths that you have to have for the bridge,” said Barden. “You are judged by a ratio of how much your bridge weighs and how much it can hold.”
Arnett said the cutoff was 55 pounds of weight in the competition but that Whitehead’s bridge was tested up to 83 pounds before it broke.
“The best comparison that comes to mind is that you want to build a bridge like an ant,” Crowe stated. “The lightest weight but carries the most.
“It’s most experimentation with the bucket weight system,” Crowe said about coming up with the right formula for the bridge. “It’s trial and error.”
In the egg drop competition, the student’s objective was to design a device with a focus on the materials used that would protect a “free-range” grade A egg from breaking when dropped.
The number of parts used to construct the device was counted and the egg was placed in the device and it was dropped from three stories off a building into a Drop Zone consisting of three concentric rings: two, four, and six feet in diameter with points assigned to each ring.
According to Arnett, finishing in the top three of the competition is a huge obstacle but not only did the Hampton students conquer that obstacle, they blew it out of the water taking eight out of the top ten spots and finishing one-two-three in the competition.
Freshman James Holland who hasn’t been in Arnett’s class that long came out on top in the competition with Morgan Lyons and Joseph Jenkins finishing second and third respectively.
Shelby Mahoney, Morgan Lyons, and Laken Lyons took fifth through seventh as Morgan Lyons finished tied with Laken Lyons for sixth and on his second drop moved up to second as each student was allowed to drop twice if they chose to improve their position.
Paige Greer and Collin Eller finished out the top 10 with a ninth and tenth place finish respectively. There were 111 teams that competed in the egg drop competition.
“Just meeting all the requirements they have to be able to compete,” said Joseph Jenkins about the toughest part of the competition. “Making sure that the device is light enough to do good with it.”
With the strong finish, the team felt a major sense of accomplishment.
“It was pretty impressive to finish like that,” Laken Lyons stated. “We worked pretty hard on it to meet all the requirements so it was pretty tough.
“To finish so well really made us excited.”
Next up for the Hampton students is the TSA Regional at the Gray National Guard Armory on Nov. 26 beginning at 8:30 am.

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