Tonawanda News

Local News

April 24, 2014

Tech Wars rebuilt, still challenging area students

Tonawanda News — SANBORN — There were a few changes for this year’s Tech Wars event. 

First, Wednesday was a new date for the 17th annual competition, as the original date was snowed out in January. Secondly, some new events highlighted the 2014 edition, said Gary Novits, a Tonawanda school district technology teacher, and Tech Wars coordinator.

“It’s still going well,” Novits said. “It was pretty successful for a makeup date.”

Tech Wars is an academically based technology competition that pits middle and high school students in multiple project-based events of skill, chance and ability. Students in local schools design and build robots, cars and other technology-based projects that they enter into a variety of competitions against other local schools and students.

This year, students had the chance to participate in a new game developed by Lockport technology teachers Noah Raymond and Andrew Ellis. That game was “Capture the Flag,” where remote control robots had to steal the other team’s flag, in this case a colored brick.

In the new cardboard chair event, participants had to design exactly what it sounds like, a cardboard chair. Teams had to take a 48-inch-by-96-inch piece of cardboard and compact it into a 12-inch-by-16-inch-by-20-inch space. For 30 seconds, that creation has to withstand at least 100 pounds of weight, increasing by 20 pounds.

Students had to use cardboard again for the “Cardboard Regatta” event. Participants had to build a two-person boat and pass through an obstacle course. 

Over 20 different schools participated in 20 different events, Novits said.

And thirdly, host Niagara County Community College wanted to get more involved with Tech Wars, said NCCC site coordinator Mark Voisinet. A few of Voisinet’s students — some former Tech Warriors themselves — ran some of the events.

Voisinet said the turnout was less than normal, roughly 400 kids instead of the typical 700 or so. That probably had to do with the rescheduling, as a few schools were still on spring break. Some Lockport and Newfane high school students were in St. Louis for the FIRST Robotics championship, which started Wednesday.

Encouraging kids to get into the STEM fields is a major reason there is a Tech Wars, Voisinet said.

“That’s the whole point of the event,” he said. “Students see they can be successful and have fun in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.”

Contact reporter Joe Olenick at 439-9222, ext. 6241 or follow him on Twitter @joeolenick.

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