On Tuesday, February 28, 2017, elementary, middle, and high school students along the Oregon coast loaded up their posters and student-built devices and headed to Oregon State University’s (OSU) Hatfield Marine Science Center to participate in the annual Oregon Coast Renewable Energy Challenge. This year, 220 students from Waldport, Newport, Toledo, Lincoln City, Tillamook and Knappa participated, bringing 75 wind, wave, and solar energy devices to display, test and be evaluated by engineering judges. For weeks prior to the competition, these students researched renewable energy, learned about existing and emerging technologies, then worked in teams to design and build their own working devices. The engineering judges were quite impressed with this year’s innovative designs and the students that created them.
With concerns that traditional energy sources are leading to climate change and other environmental issues, more countries, states and communities are exploring renewable options such as wind, solar, and wave energy to produce increasing amounts of power for our growing populations. The US Department of Energy recently announced Newport, Oregon as the site of a $40 million open-water, grid-connected national wave energy testing facility. The facility will be constructed by the Northwest National Marine Renewable Energy Center at Oregon State University and will support innovations in wave energy technologies capable of harnessing wave energy resources along our coastline.
Employment in the Renewable Energy sector is rapidly expanding and provides high wages jobs but requires Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) skills. Supported by OSU, Oregon Sea Grant, the Oregon Coast STEM Hub, and Georgia-Pacific, the Oregon Coast Renewable Energy Challenge promotes the development of these STEM skills as students work in teams to research issues surrounding renewable energy, then design, construct, test, and refine their devices. Students then have the opportunity to convey to a panel of engineering judges their design process, challenges faced, and how they worked to overcome them.
This year, twenty volunteers from OSU, Oregon Sea Grant, the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and Central Lincoln PUD helped to run the competition, evaluating student designs and testing devices in a large wind tunnel, wave tank, or under high wattage lights to determine power output. Winners of this year’s Oregon Coast Renewable Energy Challenge are listed below. Top wind teams from each age category are also invited to participate in the National KidWind Challenge in Anaheim, California on May 24-25, 2017. The national competition is being held in conjunction with the AWEA Windpower Conference and Exhibition, the largest gathering of wind industry professionals in the United States, where students will meet industry representatives, talk to professional engineers, and tour the trade show floor to see the latest and greatest in wind power.
2017 Oregon Coast Renewable Energy Winners:
Wave Energy 1st & 2nd Place- Elementary Crestview Heights School 1st Place- High School Waldport High School 2nd Place- High School Toledo High School
Solar Energy 1st Place- Elementary Sam Case Elementary 2nd Place- Elementary Toledo Elementary 1st Place- High School Waldport High School 2nd Place- High School Toledo High School
Wind Energy 1st Place- Elementary Toledo Elementary 2nd Place- Elementary Crestview Heights School 1st & 2nd Place- Middle School Waldport Middle School 1st Place- High School Waldport High School 2nd Place- High School Toledo High School.
Based at Oregon State University’s Hatfield Marine Science Center, the Oregon Coast STEM Hub is one of eleven regional STEM Hubs funded by the Oregon Department of Education. With over 58 active partners, the Oregon Coast STEM Hub serves coastal teachers, students and communities along the Oregon coast, connecting them with regional resources and providing world-class STEM experiences. For more information or to make a donation to support teams traveling to the national competition, please contact Tracy Crews at OregonCoastSTEM@oregonstate.edu.
Information and photos provided by Oregon Coast STEM HUB