Toronto, ON — Judges at the eighth annual Canadian Fluid Power Challenge, held on Thursday, May 8th in Toronto had a tough job choosing the winner, with four schools very closely clustered near the top. The 2008 competition, attended by gender-balanced teams from 18 west Toronto middle schools, was won by the team of grade eight students from Hilltop Middle School.
Students were asked to design and build fluid-power mechanisms to pick up a squash ball, place it into a hopper and remove it from a chute. They were evaluated on a number of criteria, including how many times they could repeat the cycle within a two-minute demonstration period and on how little material they used to build their devices.
“We simplified that problem a little from last year, but the students still had to work hard to produce functioning devices,” observed Steve Rogers of Kidder-Technology Teaching Systems, who acts as facilitator for the Challenge. “As usual the variety of solutions was quite amazing.”
This year’s teacher tour, which took place while the students were building their machines, went to the City of Toronto road operations facility. There they were given demonstrations of various road maintenance equipment including the latest in ‘green’ street-sweeping machines.
The Challenge, which is a partnership of the Canadian Fluid Power Association (CFPA), Kidder-TTS, and the Toronto District School Board, is intended to provide Grade 8 students with hands-on experience building a mechanism with real world applicability and to open their eyes and those of their teachers to the world of technology careers.
At a minimum, the organizers hope that the Challenge will encourage students to select more mathematics and science courses in their high school curricula to keep their options open for technology-based post-secondary studies.
This was the eighth year for the Canadian Fluid Power Challenge (previously known as the Hilltop Tech Skills Challenge) in Toronto. The CFPA’s Western Chapter also holds a Challenge in Edmonton that involves both high school and middle school students.