25 high school students from across Connecticut have been building prototypes of helicopter wings, wind turbines, and space vehicles, using toy helicopters and Legos.  The process is not as easy as building a model spaceship.

The two week program involved allowing for trial and error, building, and rebuilding.  According to 16 year old Callia Ricozzi, 16, entering her senior year the two week program has “been a little stressful because of the trial and error process. Everything has been breaking and we keep having to rebuild things.”

Ricozzi has been working on the team challenged to build a model of a space exploration vehicle that can traverse all kinds of terrain. Using computer software, a 3D printer and a lot of experimentation and improvisation, her team successfully built a vehicle that was able to traverse rough rocky terrain, slippery sand and large speed bumps, as well as pick items up and drop them in a bucket. The process of building the device, as Ricozzi said, was challenging, but she said by splitting up duties her team was able to accomplish it through a lot of experimentation.

The process is essential to an engineer’s work, UNH Engineering Professor Maria-Isabel Carnasciali said.

Learning About STEM With Legos and Helicopter

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“What they’re learning is to prototype something, see how it works and make it better. It gets them to understand things don’t always work the first time. That’s what real life engineering is all about,” Carnasciali said.

The camp is run at the Kent School, Marymount College in New York, University of Detroit-Mercy and Georgia Tech in addition to UNH. This allows for students from across the country to communicate and learn from each other. Carnasciali, who teaches at UNH and got her Ph.D from Georgia Tech, said the participants are required to work with the teams from the other locations.

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