Sequim students up to challenge

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Sequim Gazette staff

Sequim Education Foundation’s third annual Engineering Challenge was held at the Boys & Girls Club in Sequim on Saturday, Feb. 26. This year’s challenge was a Mars Rover Contest. Thirty-one students and their parents braved the cold morning to take part in the event.

There were Mars rovers of all shapes and sizes, both wheel-driven and propeller-driven, ingenious inventions of Sequim schools’ budding engineers.

The contest was separated into two divisions: kindergarten-through-fifth grade, and a grades 6-12 division.

Winners in the K-5 Division are fourth-grader Ashley Rosales, first place; third-grader Kyah Fukunaga, second place; and third-grader Lily Engeset, third place.

Grades 6-12 division winners are seventh-grader Melissa Copeland, first place; sixth-grader Jon Copeland, second place; and ninth-grader Angela Bentley, third place.

“When we planned the challenge, we didn’t appreciate how difficult it was going to be,” contest chairman Walter Johnson stated. The original challenge course was a 30-degree incline with water, rock, and glass-surfaced obstacles. Students were required to build vehicles weighing less than half a pound and using not more than two rubber bands supplied by SEF helpers for power. As registered contestants dwindled, the committee realized that some changes needed to be made so the event was divided into two parts. A pre-qualification course was constructed with a 15-degree incline and only a rock obstacle. (After all, there’s not supposed to be any water on Mars.) During the contest, every participant had to run the 15-degree pre-qualifying course and scores were counted for merchandise prizes. Successful contestants competed on the original 30-degree course for scholarships. 

“There was a lot of learning going on during the contest as students (and parents) watched the competition,” Johnson said. “It was similar to a real-life engineering project where we learn by observing results.”

In 2009, the foundation hosted an egg drop contest for the group’s first engineering challenge. Last year, it was a popsicle stick bridge building contest.

“The goal of SEF is to inspire students to succeed and the can-do attitude of our
Sequim young people was truly a wonderful thing to observe,” foundation president Dick Hughes said.

Learn about the Sequim Education Foundation at



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