Vernier Announces 2017 Engineering Contest Winners

Industry News
Science teachers win $5,500 in prizes for creatively using Vernier sensors to introduce engineering concepts

Vernier Software & Technology has announced the winners—one high school teacher and one middle school teacher—of its 2017 Engineering Contest. Carl Stoltz of Hononegah High School in Rockton, Illinois and Tate Rector of Beebe Junior High School in Beebe, Arkansas were recognized for their creative use of Vernier sensors to introduce engineering concepts or practices to their STEM students.

“The winners of this year’s Engineering Contest showcase true creativity and innovation,” said John Wheeler, CEO of Vernier Software & Technology. “Their use of data-collection technology to teach students about engineering concepts—and to engage them in meaningful, hands-on learning—exemplifies STEM solutions that other educators can use in their own classrooms.”

Selected by a panel of Vernier experts, the winning projects demonstrated engineering practices called for in the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) and were chosen based on innovation and the ease by which other teachers can replicate the project.

The winners each receive $1,000 in cash, $3,000 in Vernier technology, and $1,500 toward expenses to attend the 2017 National Science Teachers’ Association (NSTA) STEM conference or the 2017 American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) conference.

The Winning Projects

In “Sound Proofing Box,” Stoltz created a project that combines learning the physics of sound waves with practicing engineering principles. The project challenges students to reduce the intensity of a sound travelling through a box, as measured by a Vernier Sound Level Sensor. Students work in groups to research materials, test decibel levels, log results, and brainstorm ideas to iterate their box design. The project ends with all groups testing their final design and explaining their materials and reasoning.

In “Baby Saver 2000,” a group of Rector’s students worked collaboratively to design a safety device for cars that warns operators when the interior is becoming too hot for infants. After performing research on this potential life-threatening condition, the students defined the problem, generated concepts, and documented ideas. Once they chose a method to pursue, they iterated design prototypes utilizing a range of technology, including a Vernier Temperature Probe, the LEGO® EV3 robotics platform, and an Arduino™ microcontroller. In addition, they created 3-D printed items to help attach the parts to an infant’s car seat. The students completed the project with a presentation video highlighting how much they learned, as well as their ability to solve real-world problems using technology.

William Anderson of St. Louis University High School in St. Louis, Missouri was also recognized with a notable entry for “Soaring to New Heights in Environmental Science.” In this project, Anderson’s students launch a weather balloon twice each school year to understand the structure and function of the atmosphere and to investigate seasonal and altitudinal changes in atmospheric conditions.

To watch videos of the 2017 winning projects in action or to learn more about the winners, visit