The Blue Team members are Liam Clark, Gatlin Loepp, Kruz Hernandez, Zoey Schletzbaum, and Dalton Urban, along with two coaches, Keith Gable and Hannah Schletzbaum. They qualified for the national competition after winning the Judge’s Favorite award in April at the state competition in Topeka.
At the National KidWind Challenge in San Antonio last week, the team competed against more than 50 other teams in the elementary division.
The teams faced various STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) challenges centering around wind energy. The Blue Team’s challenges involved testing wind turbines with varying components such as solar energy, hydropower, and wind tunnels.
Students were also quizzed on their science, technology, engineering and math knowledge and understanding of the science behind wind turbines.
“The first day of the competition, we were busy from the beginning of the day to the end,” Coach Gable said in a news release. “On the second day, there was a special STEM Design Challenge with Johns Hopkins that the students had an opportunity to participate in, and we were smiling the entire time because it was exactly what we do here at Allen every day. We also tried to give the team additional learning opportunities through museum tours and experiences.”
“We were nervous and excited at the same time because it was a totally new experience. I liked doing the tunnel testing, and it felt very exciting and fun to talk to people and do the challenges,” Urban, a fourth-grader, said.
College teams were competing in the Collegiate Wind event at the same time as the KidWind Challenge, which allowed the Hutchinson students to collaborate and learn from the college teams.
Hutch STEM Magnet has developed a relationship with the Kansas Energy Program through Kansas State University (K-State). While competing in San Antonio, the university competitors took time to mentor the elementary team and work with them on how to improve their results.
“The chance to work with college mentors was really amazing,” assistant coach Hannah Schletzbaum said. “We spent time with the K-State team, and they took the time to show our students the parts of their turbine and gave each of our kids some 3D printed items that they weren’t going to use anymore, and even checked in with them later to give them advice. It was really cool. It was one of my favorite moments.”
“We were asking the K-State team if they had any tips for us on how to get more joules on our turbine, and they suggested changing the degrees on our blades, and that’s how we got our highest number,” fourth-grader Schletzbaum said.
This was the team’s first time participating in KidWind. Despite being one of the youngest teams at both Regionals and State, the Hutch STEM Blue Team received the National Champion title for the Elementary Division.
The Hutchinson community supported the Blue Team through fundraisers and celebrations. The team even got a police escort on the way out of town.
“We had the pride and excitement of the whole school. We’ve been sharing the trophy with classrooms throughout the school because it’s just as much theirs as it is the team’s,” Gable said.
Hutch STEM Magnet hopes more of its students will participate in KidWind in the future. It also wants to inspire other USD 308 schools to send teams to the event.
“We want to start preparing much earlier now that we know the process of the competition,” said Hannah Schletzbaum.