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Leading the way

IHS takes first place at Engineering Day


Ironton High School took home overall first place honors at the 2015 Engineering Day by Project Lead the Way (PLTW), one of the largest STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) programs in the country, conducted in Lawrence County by Collins Career Center.

This year’s engineering day was at Ironton High School on Friday where three different competitions took place between PLTW engineering students from Ironton, Chesapeake, South Point, Dawson-Bryant and Rock Hill high schools.

“One of the competitions is a group of students from each school working on who can build the tallest tower made out of newspaper,” Matt Monteville, director of satellite operations for Collins Career Center, said. “They have a lot of newspaper, but only two feet of masking tape.”

Five students from each school worked on the newspaper project; one from each grade and an extra that can be from any grade, Monteville said.

The second part of the newspaper competition was to build another tower out of newspaper that is three feet tall and can hold the most weight. The students only had a six-inch stack of newspapers and 3 feet of masking tape for this.

At the same time, another group of PLTW students from each of the schools worked on robots for the competition.

“There are two parts to the robotics teams,” Monteville said. “The first is that when the students got here, they were given a course to program the robots to run. The second is that they will control those same robots and see who can pick up objects the fastest.”

Two students from each school worked on the robotics part of the competition.

The final competition of Engineering Day was a bridge competition in which every tenth grader in the engineering side of PLTW created a bridge out of balsa wood.

“They had a class competition with the bridges,” Monteville said. “The winners of the class competition got to rebuild their bridge and bring it to the county competition today.”

All of the competitions are based on an overall point system with individual competition worth 25 percent of the overall score.

Ironton High School won both newspaper competitions and the bridge competition to receive this year’s overall Engineering Day trophy, while Chesapeake High School won both robotics competitions.

“The kids really enjoy the competition,” Gary Salyer, PLTW consultant, said. “They are learning the whole time and we give them an opportunity to practice what they’ve been learning. When they got here, they didn’t know what the challenge was. This is all about problem solving and critical thinking.”

Salyer started the PLTW program in Lawrence County in 2003.

Rock Hill senior and PLTW engineering student Braeden Hairston plans on studying electrical engineering and computer sciences in college and sees the benefits that the program has on its students.

“I’ve been in PLTW since my freshman year,” he said. There are a lot of scholarship opportunities being a part of PLTW. It is really putting us ahead in math and sciences.”