Rock ‘n’ roll, research and robots at Edmonds School District’s STEM in Action Showcase

Newly elected VEX Robotics Club president Kyra Otebele proudly stands by the club’s recently beefed-up robots.

Students and staff from five schools gathered at Mountlake Terrace High School Friday for the Edmonds District’s STEM in Action Showcase.

Mountlake Terrace and Lynnwood High Schools, Meadowdale Middle School, Edmonds eLearning Academy, Edmonds Heights K-12 and Hazelwood and Martha Lake Elementary Schools set up their displays in the gymnasium to show their science, technology, engineering and math skills.

Students from Mountlake Terrace High School, Lynnwood High School and Meadowdale Middle School display their work and answer questions about their findings.
Programming and robotics can be taught in elementary school with fun interfaces for children to input simple commands.

Student Ollie Kraus said he wasn’t connecting with his old high school. His mother was looking at the different regional schools for programs that would keep his interest when she found STEM Guitar at Edmonds Heights K-12.

“As soon as my mom showed me this program, I was sold; this is the school I want to go to,” Kraus said. “I don’t care about the 45-minute commute; it’s worth it.”

Although most people  are familiar with rock stars putting on spectacular shows, few understand the science behind making a guitar. The electrical value of a volume potentiometer, the type of wood and how it’s finished, and the scale length (the distance of the string from the nut to the bridge) can change the sound and resonance of the instrument.

Ollie Kraus of Edmonds Heights K-12 proudly displays the guitar he built at Guitar STEM. It is based on a Fender Stratocaster with a hydro-dip finish and a matching guitar strap.

“There is a lot of science and math behind this,” Kraus said as he lifted his guitar.

He explained that the students order parts and materials from GuitarBuilding.Org (the sponsors of Guitar STEM) with a selection of woods, electronics like guitar pickups (the devices that “pick up” the sound from the strings), and hardware such as tuners, bridges and knobs.

The students shape the headstock (the part of the neck holding the tuning pegs) and dress the fret wire. They shape and fine sand the guitar bodies, then add a finish ranging from a natural wood stain to paint or a wild hydro-dip that swirls different colors.

Krause said although building guitars is a hobby for him now, he is not opposed to becoming a professional luthier.

Robots are always a big draw at STEM demonstrations.
Mountlake Terrace’s VEX Robotics Club and 1778 Chill Out Robotics displayed and explained their creations.

Robotics displays are attention-getting, and the STEM showcase was no different.

Mountlake Terrace’s FIRST Robotics team, 1178 Chill Out, had several robots for guests to use, some with armatures to lift objects.

AP Computer Science and Robotics teacher Brandon Owings and newly elected VEX Robotics Club president Kyra Otebele presented robots at their booth and fielded questions from parents and children alike.

Owings explained that this season’s robots are heavier-duty than in past years and “should take a beating.”

Mountlake Terrace High School’s Hawk Broadcast Network also presented a full array of broadcast equipment including their broadcast field production display.

Hawk Broadcast Network Secretary Clay Sandstrom, President Magnolia Ungerleider, Vice President Maximillian Schafer and Podcast Producer McKenna Kesling present the broadcast field production display for Mountlake Terrace High School.

President Magnolia Ungerleider, Vice President Maximillian Schafer, Secretary Clay Sandstrom and Podcast Producer McKenna Kesling demonstrated the equipment and answered guests’ questions.

Schafer explained that the Hawk Broadcast Network’s responsibilities include recording and broadcasting live events and graduations.

To find out more about Edmonds School District STEM program, click here.

— Story and photos by Rick Sinnett

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