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Alpena High School, Thunder Bay Junior High, Alcona High School and Alcona Middle School all participated in an underwater innovative vehicle design competition held by the Square One Education Network last week. These schools competed against each other to win awards in multiple categories.

“Today, we hosted our underwater innovative vehicle design competition. We had twenty six teams here from the region that came in and competed with their underwater various mission challenges that we provided” said Barb Land, Executive director of the Square One Education Network.

Multiple trophies were awarded for categories such as innovative design and engineering, ambassadorship, presentation and perfect pitch. The competition ended in a drag race that was won by the team of Matthew Benali Gabara, Carson Koch and Matthew Kowalski from Thunder Bay Junior High.

“We won the drag race. This is our drag, it looks like a tornado almost. This is our favorite part of the whole thing” said Benali Gabara, Thunder Bay Junior High student and drag race winner.

“Last year, we didn’t even have a dragster; we didn’t have time to make one” said Carson Koch, Thunder Bay Junior High student and drag race winner.

“We didn’t have time to make one because we spent so much time on this one”said Gabara.

“It’s a really good design” said Koch.

Square one education network is planning on having at least five more innovative design competitions within the next few weeks.

“It is such an exciting event to the see the enthusiasm that the kids bring forward. This kind of hands on project based learning experience is so important to a really rich educational experience. These students are having the opportunity to problem solve right on the spot, they’ve had to adjust and make changes right there while they’re out on the pool deck and just to see the process go through their minds and the ultimate success is really really exciting” said Land.

Land says these competitions help serve as a gateway for students to get into engineering and since she’s started this program, she’s witnessed growth across the state of Michigan.