Challenge winners tower over previous contests

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Last year’s fifth-graders did a fantastic job in the OPPD Society of Engineers’ (OSE) Marshmallow Challenge. But this year’s first place team took the tower-building contest to even greater heights.

The contest, designed to promote problem-solving, teamwork and innovation, is held annually in conjunction with National Engineers Week. It’s part of OPPD’s ongoing commitment to Science Technology Engineering Arts and Math (STEAM) education.

With guidance from their teachers, fifth grade students throughout OPPD’s service territory were asked to build the tallest free-standing structure they could within 20 minutes, using only dry spaghetti, string, tape and a marshmallow to top it off. OSE accepted entries via the Omaha Public Power District Facebook page Feb. 19-22, with the winners announced Feb. 23.

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St. Margaret Mary’s “Spartan Power” team won first place with a tower measuring 38.75 inches.

St. Margaret Mary’s “Spartan Power” team managed to build a 38.75-inch tall structure. That beats last year’s top team from Reagan Elementary by 2.5 inches.

Second place, this year, goes to Johnson-Brock, with a 30-inch tower. And third place goes to “Team Luke” at Fort Crook Elementary, with a 29-inch tower.

The top three winning teams’ classrooms will receive goody bags from OSE, as well as visits from OPPD engineers to talk about careers in engineering.

This year, for the first time, OSE also named a Creativity Award winner. As its name implies, this honorable mention was given to the team that displayed the most creative construction, even if their tower was not the tallest. And the award went to “Team Schindler” from Brownell-Talbot School, with a uniquely-shaped 28-inch tall tower.

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Brownell-Talbot School’s “Team Schindler” won this year’s Creativity Award. They impressed judges with their boxy, yet structurally sound, design.

“They made a successful tower using a triangular prism base, topped by a pyramid, and then a multipronged vertical spaghetti stick marshmallow holder,” said OSE Emeritus Neal Faltys. “This approach created a strong structure in a combination of shapes unexpected to see for this competition.”

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Fifth grade students from Johnson-Brock earned second place with their 30-inch tower.
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“Team Luke” from Fort Crook Elementary in Bellevue won third place with their 29-inch tower.
Jodi Baker

About Jodi Baker

Jodi Baker writes stories and shoots videos for The Wire. Jodi was a television news reporter before she came to work for OPPD as a media specialist in 2013. She's married with two children (a boy and a girl) and an allergy-ridden little Cairn Terrier.

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