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Middle, High School Students Take Part in Google Wind Challenge

The 5th annual Google Wind Challenge took place Saturday in the Gorge, and two Henkle Middle School teams, the #STEMINISTS2 and #STEMINISTS, took home first and second place honors respectively in the middle school category.

Photo by Ken Park
The 5th annual Google Wind Challenge took place Saturday in the Gorge, and two Henkle Middle School teams, the #STEMINISTS2 and #STEMINISTS, took home first and second place honors respectively in the middle school category.



Students from around the Gorge took part in the 5th annual Google Wind Challenge on Saturday, March 17, at the Fort Dalles Readiness Center in The Dalles.

This year, more than 190 students from 16 local high schools and middle schools competed to build the competition’s top turbines.

During the Wind Challenge, student teams worked together with volunteer mentors to design, build and test their turbines. The colorful, creative machines were then presented to judges Dave Mason, Jordan Haney, Pam Morse, Rose Kelly, Phil Donovan, and Tom Lieurance who selected the winners based on each turbine’s power and efficiency.

The Wind Challenge and accompanying STEM fair is sponsored by Google and produced in partnership with Gorge Technology Alliance and Columbia Gorge Community College (CGCC). The event is a culmination of the organizations’ broader efforts to bring hands-on STEM opportunities to area students and inspire the next generation of leaders in these fields.

“Our hope is that students and the broader community grow a passion for science and technology by participating in the Wind Challenge,” said Dave Karlson, data center operations manager for Google and White Salmon resident. “For five years, we have been proud to support this STEM education event. We are excited to continue supporting STEM initiatives in the Gorge.”

Participants, family and friends and community members also had the opportunity to take part in the fun by exploring hands-on exhibits at the adjoining STEM fair, featuring interactive activities from Bonneville Power, Gorge MakerSpace, Google, Columbia Gorge Community College, Cascade Mountain School, K’Nex, The Dalles Library, FIRST Tech Challenge teams, and more.

This year, three high school division winners, three middle school division winners and two categories of runner-ups were selected (see names below). The winning teams received an assortment of fun prizes, including Sphero robotic balls, robot kits, Snap Circuits and tablets for their efforts.

High School winners were: Owls - Pacific Crest Innovation Academy, 1st place; Bulldogs-Maroon - Stevenson High School, 2nd place; Team Cyclones - LIFE in the Gorge Homeschool Group, 3rd place. High School runner-up awards were: Mechanical: Bulldogs-Blue - Stevenson High School; Electrical: Wild is the Wind - Goldendale Home School.

Middle School winners were: #STEMINIST2 - Henkle Middle School, 1st place; #STEMINIST - Henkle Middle School, 2nd place; Royals-Blue - Wind River Middle School, 3rd place. Runner Up awards were: Mechanical: Fixing It - Goldendale Middle School; Electrical: Dust in the Wind - Goldendale Homeschoolers.

“Each year, we are wowed by students’ clever designs,” said Gorge Technology Alliance Executive Director Jessica Metta. “The Wind Challenge is an example of how you can make STEM education captivating and interactive.”

For information about this year’s Wind Challenge, visit www.windchallenge.org.



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