No need to give them a hand, they made one.
For the second year in a row, Michael Grebeck and Chase Leach won first place in the BEST (Butwin Elias Science and Technology) awards at Meyers High School. Also for the second year in a row, the two didn’t have a fully functioning version of their painstakingly-developed winning entry.
Last year, it was a mini quad-copter drone with a broken propeller and motors that balked when the remote control was activated. This year, it was a small hand made of 20 pieces that were custom-designed and manufactured with a 3-D printer, with three motors operating the fingers by pulling fishing lines connected to the tips (rubber bands pulled them back when the motors reversed).
Alas, one line was broken and other fingers barely reacted to the tug of the mini-motors.
But as Adam Iseman, Meyers Class of 2007, has said repeatedly since the awards funded by the Iseman Foundation were launched, it’s about who has the best idea, not the best prototypes.
Iseman, a successful electrical engineer whose career took him to Boeing and Apple on the West Coast, created the foundation to honor his teachers and provide academic opportunities for youth.
And the team of Grebeck and Leach — good name for an engineering firm, by the way — certainly had exhibited a lot of ingenuity in making four articulated fingers and a thumb, attached to hand that hid the three tiny motors. All told, they estimated, the pair had poured about 130 hours into the project.
“It took the whole school year,” Grebeck said.
Other winners included a hovercraft and a motorized skateboard powered by a cordless drill. One of the three young women who had built it, sophomore Alana Germano, conceded the design was a bit unstable: a board with a regular skateboard two-wheel truck on one end and a small bicycle wheel with a cog driven by a chain turned by the drill.
“It’s pretty dangerous,” she admitted, though she added her younger sister did ride it a short while, using a string that stretched down the drill trigger to turn it on.
First place earned Grebeck and Leach a $2,500 award, or $1,250 each. The foundation gave away awards for the top five places: $2,500 for first, $1,000 for second, $500 for third, $250 for fourth and $150 for fifth.
They gave the same amounts for the Caffrey Wells Fine Arts awards.
Fifth-place art winner Kaede Goodeliunas stood proudly near three walls she had painted in colorful geometric shapes using colors she said were proven to be relaxing. Why these walls? “I spent my whole junior year staring at this space every day,” she explained.
Iseman said third place was won by the author of a fictional account of a school shooting. He conceded reading a piece on that topic by a ninth-grade student was “hard to take” because it is something the students should never need to contemplate.
And first place in art went to junior Calista Uher, who wrote a fictional diary covering a full year. She dubbed it, simply: “365 Days.”
Reach Mark Guydish at 570-991-6112 or on Twitter @TLMarkGuydish