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Cuero students go national with construction challenge

By ERICA RODRIGUEZ
March 14, 2011 at 7:01 p.m.
Updated March 14, 2011 at 10:15 p.m.

Colton Jacobs uses a drill press to punch holes into a sheet of Plexiglas to lighten the weight load, as students from Cuero High School prepare for the Construction Challenge, a national competition.  The challenge is designed to get students interact with real world problem solving issues in the construction field.

THE AEM CONSTRUCTION CHALLENGE CUERO TEAM

Students:

Colton Jacob

Rian Wendel

Veronica Melgoza

Megan Proctor

Jesse Padilla

Ryan Beer

Instructors:

Paul Faulkner, drafting, building trades instructor

Jaclyn Cox, math teacher

Linda Colman, physics teacher

Sponsors:

Volvo Construction Equipment

Cuero Education Foundation

Pioneer Resources

PRIZES

Overall Champions (for each member)

First: $1,000 scholarship and Apple iPad

Second: Apple iPad

Third: Apple iPod Touch

Challenge No. 1 winners

First: Xbox 360 Kinect

Second: Garmin GPS system

Third: $100 Visa gift card

Challenge No. 2 winners

First: $500 Best Buy gift card

Second: Flip Ultra HD Camcorder

Third: $100 Visa gift card

CUERO - With less than a week to go, a team of construction-minded high school juniors are busy preparing for a national challenge that could win them hundreds of dollars in scholarships and popular electronics.

The team is one of 24 teams in the nation that advanced to the AEM Construction Challenge in Las Vegas that begins Monday. Cuero's team ranked third among the 24 at its most recent qualifying regional meet.

The challenge is two-fold.

Challenge No. 1 is riddled with technical and logistical obstacles. Students must prepare a remote controlled car to haul cardboard materials over an obstacle course.

Seven students in all will be given 15 minutes to get the car across uneven terrain, load a stack of cardboard boxes, return the supplies, then build a structure.

"You'll be graded on how well you work together, how much volume you move from point A to point B," said Paul Faulkner, a drafting/building trades instructor who is a sponsor on the team. "And when it gets to point B, how well you put it together."

The school's building trades workshop is the site of their developments where the students remodeled a car to carry loads of small boxes. They used Plexiglass on top of the car to balance and strap down the cardboard boxes.

"If we have one little mistake, or one little mess up, it could ruin the whole thing," said Ryan Beer, a junior who's on the team.

Challenge No. 2 is to score points through a game show about water infrastructure policy.

A research team works daily in the school library, creating questions and researching answers to complex questions.

The group work helps the students bond, they said, an element that's crucial to placing first.

"Without getting along, we won't get more points for having our team work" said Megan Proctor, a junior on the team.

None of the students get school credit for the event, but work on the project during a daily 45-minute activity period and during spare time at school.

"We thought it'd be a good idea and it'd probably be fun," Ryan said.

This is the school's second time in three years to make it to the finals, but many of the students first time to travel to Las Vegas.

Three sponsors will escort the students. The group will return home on March 25.

"They're all first class ladies and gentleman," Faulkner said. "I trust them enough to take them Las Vegas."

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