OPPD’s Marshmallow Challenge returned this year after a break last year because of the pandemic.
Sponsored and judged by members of the OPPD Society of Engineers (OSE), this annual contest challenges teams of fifth-graders to build the tallest free-standing tower they can, using only uncooked spaghetti, masking tape and string, then topping off their creation with a marshmallow. OSE accepted entries via the Omaha Public Power District Facebook page.
The contest, held annually in conjunction with National Engineers Week, is designed to promote problem-solving, teamwork and innovation. This year it was held at the discretion of individual teachers, classrooms and school districts, and in accordance with appropriate and applicable health and safety protocols.
“After trying the challenge myself this year, it is way harder than it looks. I certainly have a new found respect for the caliber of towers that always get submitted,” said Cory Rosenblad, OSE chair and senior programs engineer in Production Energy & Fuels at OPPD.
The contest wrapped up on another engineering date, Pi Day (3.14). It’s part of OPPD’s ongoing commitment to Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) education.
Coming in second place was the tower measuring 32.5 inches built by a team from Upchurch Elementary School in Millard.
Third place went to Whitetail Creek Elementary in Gretna, with a 30.5-inch tower
The top three winners’ classrooms will receive goody bags from OSE, as well as visits from OPPD engineers to talk about careers in engineering.
The Origami Tower Team from Gretna Elementary School won the Creativity Design Award.
“I thought all the entries were great and looked like a lot of fun,” Rosenblad said. “For the creative award, we looked for a design that was outside the normal.”
Gretna Elementary’s entry had a “very creative” and interesting support structure, Rosenblad said, though the structure “did not pan out in the actual competition.”
“We liked the creativity behind it, and I bet they gained a few insights and hopefully had fun,” Rosenblad said.
A total of 10 schools from across the OPPD service territory submitted entries.
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