Two Harker teams took home awards earlier this month at the Tech Challenge Showcase, hosted by the Tech Interactive in San Jose. Harker fifth graders Sylvia Chen, Nicholas Knauer, Ameera Ramzan and Adrian Roufas, known collectively as Team NASA, were one of two teams in the Grades 4-5 category to receive the Outstanding Overall award at the 2020 Tech Challenge Showcase, hosted by the Tech Museum of San Jose. In the video contest, Team RASA — whose acronym is derived from the first letter from the first name of each team member: fourth graders Riya Chaddha, Abby Heinlein, Sofe Jalil and Augusta Chen — took third place for their video chronicling the development of their project, competing against every team in every age group.
The showcase and awards ceremony, which attracted over 2,300 students representing more than 500 teams, moved to a virtual format this year because of shelter-in-place restrictions.
Teams this year were challenged to build a launcher that can propel separate devices through a 10-foot high hoop and land in a pre-defined area. The devices are then supposed to expand to larger size, with both the area and volume being key metrics for evaluating overall performance. While building three separate components (a launcher, area device and volume device) is challenging enough, teams this year had to work under the restrictions posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Team NASA rose to the challenge. Starting in March, during the critical home stretch, team members practiced social distancing by conducting virtual meetings over Zoom and found ways to divide work without getting together physically.