Students design thrill ride

BMS team was only group to participate from Mifflin County

Sentinel photo by JULIANNE CAHILL
Belleville Mennonite School students, from left, Ben Hartzler, Simon Peachey and Gabriel Amspacker use K'nex building pieces to assemble an eco-friendly amusement park ride they designed during the 2017 K'nex STEM Design Challenge, held Friday at Tuscarora Intermediate Unit 11 in McVeytown. Not pictured is teammate Zachary Snook.

McVEYTOWN — As many as 40 people can find a seat on “The Flying Squirrel,” a spinning thrill ride dreamt up by four Belleville Mennonite School students.

Seventh graders Gabriel Amspacker, Ben Hartzler, Zachary Snook and Simon Peachey made up the only Mifflin County team to compete in the sixth to eighth grade regional 2017 K’nex STEM Design Challenge, held Friday at Tuscarora Intermediate Unit 11 in McVeytown.

Using K’nex building pieces, students were challenged to design an amusement ride for a new park that is making “green” energy a priority.

Early in the design process, the boys said they considered building a carousel but thought that might be too ordinary. Then, they thought a roller coaster might do the trick — but many other students might think of that, too. The solution was a high-thrill spinning experience with the benefit of portable travel.

Peachey said their ride was inspired in part by the classic tilt-a-whirl.

Snook said the team took the idea of spinning on a horizontal plane and switched it up a bit.

“Well, what if we took that idea and made it go vertical?” he said.

They did.

Hartzler said the overall design is simplistic, but the team felt that was an advantage over some of the more complex, expensive proposals from other teams.

Peachey said the ride is powered by solar panels — one to power two motors required to make the ride run and a backup for security.

The sixth to eighth grade division of the competition also required students to include a price estimate based on research into the materials needed to make their ideas reality. The boy said their ride would cost $9,735, and its design is portable, which they thought could be an advantage over others.

The BMS students took only 35 minutes to build their K’nex prototype Friday morning. Students had three hours total to work before judging.

The winning teams from Friday’s competition include: first place, McConnellsburg Middle School; second place, Huntingdon Area Middle School; and third place, Southern Fulton Middle School.