Armed only with tools like duct tape and paper clips, a team of young engineers from the Y.A.L.E School’s Cherry Hill campus is ready to solve problems, “MacGyver”-style.
In March, the team of five boys – self-named “The Angry Nerds” – took part in Odyssey of the Mind, a large organization where schools from various states and countries take part in an intellectual problem solving competition.
The students, William Reid, Robert Fisher, Brian Kennedy, John Weightman, and Noah Ayars decided to compete in the “Tumblewood Problem” which asks teams to create a structure made solely out of balsa wood and one type of adhesive. There were height and weight rules: it could not weigh more than 15g and it had to be at least eight inches tall. They had to create a ramp that would launch the structure four feet into the air and transport it to a crusher pad, without using their hands. Once on the crusher pad, weights were applied to the structure until it was crushed. The Y.A.L.E. team’s building held 195 pounds!
“We created a verbal performance to go along with this process and incorporated the Angry Birds theme, calling ourselves “The Angry Nerds,” said one student, adding, “and the judges gave us a lot of points for style and creativity!”
On the day of the competition, the team also competed in a spontaneous problem, which forced them to work together to come up with unique solutions on the spot. “The judges said we worked very well as a team and came up with some really creative responses,” said one team member.
At the award ceremony, the Y.A.L.E. team took 2nd place in their division, making them one of five teams to move on to the state competition in April.
Here is what the boys had to say:
“Odyssey of the Mind really helped us learn how to work together as a group, cope with stressful situations, and learn new and creative ways to solve problems. We are very proud of our accomplishments!”
“We would like to thank our coaches, Kristin Pragle and Nicole McNally, for all their help and support. We would like to invite everyone to join us as we make history at the state competition.”