W-B Area students get annual STEM award and new Fine Arts award

By Mark Guydish - [email protected] | May 30th, 2017 6:00 pm - updated: 11:17 am.

The mini quad-copter drone balked unresponsively to the remote control, and it wouldn’t fly anyway thanks to a broken propeller. The box that turned a flat-screen image into three dimensions wouldn’t work because the monitor didn’t like the cable connection to the computer.

At first blush, entries and winners in the Butwin Elias Science and Technology (BEST) Awards at Meyers High School seemed — umm — function-challenged. Adam Iseman, Meyers Class of 2007, who flew in to give the awards funded by the Iseman Foundation, shrugged off the glitches.

“Demo gremlins,” he quipped. Iseman noted the awards, named after two teachers, are given to the best work, not necessarily the best working prototype.

In that regard, Chase Leach and Michael Grebeck, both finishing ninth grade, almost certainly earned the $1,500 first-place award handed to them by frustration level alone. They had designed a mini-drone out of electronic parts bought at Walter’s Hardware in Wilkes-Barre and plastic parts created using a 3-D printer.

It took five prototypes just to get the plastic printed parts right, and numerous tries to get the weight and balance of the electronics parts set up in a way that would allow flight (you can get details of their work at instructables.com). Then they broke a propeller.

In fact, they dubbed it the MC (Michael-Chase) Phoenix mini-drone because of all the times it had to be — like the legendary bird — reborn.

Alyssa Lane, who won first place last year by turning a shovel into an electric guitar, took second with her pseudo-3D projector. She essentially made a pyramid out of Plexiglas sheets, and built a box around it to hold a flat screen on top, screen facing down toward the peak of the pyramid.

When she played videos that projected the same thing in four corners of the screen, the Plexiglas reflected those images. You can walk around and see the same animated video on all four sides of the pyramid.

The Iseman Foundation introduced a new companion award this year, the Caffrey Welles Fine Arts Award. Tiara Penna — yes, she gets jokes about crowns and pasta — won second place with sophisticated drawings primarily using Medibang software.

First place for the Caffrey Welles award — also worth $1,500 — went to senior Meghan Cook for her novella “The Penny Man,” which she admits was partly written to “make fun of” her older sister’s recurring arguments that the penny coin should be eliminated from currency. Cook is quick, however, to point out one of the characters is “based on my sister in a much more flattering way.”

The novella is “a detective story unlike any other detective story,” she said. And the title character? He has collected one newly minted penny every year since 1986, and keeps them in a trench coat pocket.

Curious? The novella is online at blogspot.com.

All told, Adam Iseman — son of former Times Leader managing editor Dave Iseman — said the foundation gave out $5,800 this year for the awards.

Chase Leach and Michael Grebeck demonstrate their MC Phoenix mini-drone at Meyers High School on Tuesday. The students won first place, worth $1,500, in the Butwin Elias Science and Technology Awards.
http://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/web1_TTL053117stemaward1-1.jpgChase Leach and Michael Grebeck demonstrate their MC Phoenix mini-drone at Meyers High School on Tuesday. The students won first place, worth $1,500, in the Butwin Elias Science and Technology Awards. Aimee Dilger | Times Leader
English teacher Kevin Welles sits with Meghan Cook who won the Caffrey Welles Fine Arts Award at Meyers High School for her novella “The Penny Man.”
http://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/web1_TTL053117stemaward2-1.jpgEnglish teacher Kevin Welles sits with Meghan Cook who won the Caffrey Welles Fine Arts Award at Meyers High School for her novella “The Penny Man.” Aimee Dilger | Times Leader

By Mark Guydish

[email protected]

Reach Mark Guydish at 570-991-6112 or on Twitter @TLMarkGuydish


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