Victoria Rodriguez and four of her peers from across the state engineered a victory at the Texas Alliance for Minorities in Engineering (TAME) Statewide Math & Science Competition recently, using nothing more than four toothpicks, two rubber bands, a clothespin, and a few dozen other small items.
Dubbed “The Tower of Power,” the crane the Clifton Middle School eighth-grader and her teammates constructed with these materials could successfully pivot 90 degrees and lift 83 marbles up to six-and-a-half inches.
“We came up with our design by trying to imagine an actual crane and used the tools we had to make a smaller version,” said Victoria, who acted as her team’s project manager. “Our crane was successful because it did everything it was built to do.”
The team’s accomplishment is even more impressive when you consider that it got a late start. “We only had 10 minutes or so to build it,” she said.
Nevertheless, Victoria’s team took home the prize, and she was one of a dozen HISD students to place at the 27th annual competition, which was held at Texas A&M University on April 14.
Other students who received awards at the event were: Moises Tacam (Challenge ECHS), Desmond Titus (Jordan HS), Samantha Gomez-Mora, and Emmanuel Onochie (both from DeVry Advantage Academy), who closed out the second through fifth-place prizes in the Integrated Physics and Chemistry category; Jessica Salazar (Challenge ECHS), who won fourth place in Physics; Nicolas Xiong (East ECHS) and Jayvian Green (Jordan HS), who won fourth and fifth place, respectively, in Advanced Placement Physics; and four others who also placed with their teams in the design challenge.
The event brought together more than 300 winners in grades 6–12 from 11 regional competitions across Texas. In addition to testing student knowledge of math and science concepts, the competition promotes teamwork, leadership, and academic achievement.