VAN BUREN, Maine — Students from six schools in Maine and New Hampshire have won $1,000 in cash each from S.W. Cole Engineering Inc. as part of the Bangor-based company’s Dig Into Science contest.
To enter, students worked as a class to script, film, edit and produce a short video explaining how science, engineering and technology affects their daily lives.
The prizes went to six juniors at the Van Buren District Secndary School; students in the fourth-fifth grade multiage class at Leeds Central School; grade seven students at Samuel L. Wagner Elementary School in Winterport; the fourth-fifth grade multiage class at Kennebunkport Consolidated School; students at the Portsmouth New Hampshire Middle School; and grade eight students at Boynton Middle School in New Ipswich, N.H.
At Van Buren District Secondary School, students Chantal Rioux, Marc Lajoie, Forrest Bouchard, Ashley Martin, Nicholas Lajoie and Parise Rossignol created a one-minute video montage showcasing working technology around their school.
With an original drumbeat as the background, the students’ video spotlights everything from communication devices to laptop computers to Bunsen burners all, they say, made possible by scientists and engineers.
“We were pleased with the response and quite impressed with the enthusiasm, creativity and hard work that all the students put into their videos,” Bob Chaput, S.W. Cole Engineering Inc. senior vice president, said.
In Van Buren, the winning students learned of the award at a surprise assembly Friday morning.
“It was very shocking to learn we had won that award,” said Steven Giangiordano, Van Buren’s junior college chemistry teacher. “This is a great accomplishment for the students.”
Giangiordano, a Maine School of Science and Mathematics graduate, is a first-year teacher.
While the students spent about a week planning the video, the actual footwork took far less time.
“We pretty much just walked around the school looking for things to include,” Marc Lajoie said. “Then we just began videotaping.”
Rioux said the award came as a complete surprise and makes her proud of her fellow classmates and her school.
“It was really a great surprise to hear we had won,” Martin said.
“This is really a nice group of students and I really enjoy working with them,” Giangiordano said. “This project really challenged them and they used their imaginations to see what engineering involves and how it affects our everyday lives.”
At Samuel L.Wagner Middle School, science teacher Tamara Cardello encouraged each of the five science classes to participate in the contest.
“My students were not only competing against other school’s entries, but also each other,” Cardello said. “When S.W. Cole told us who won, my students were not upset about losing — they were excited for our school.”
All award prize money is earmarked for participation in an extracurricular program relating to science, math or engineering.
“This has been one of the coolest experiences,” Sara Ashley, professional engineer with S.W. Cole Inc., said Friday afternoon. “Engineers and scientists don’t fall from the sky and you need to encourage them.”
Ashley, who works out of Cole’s Caribou office, was on hand in Van Buren earlier that day to present the award and hopes the students take a good look at the ways she says engineering affects them.
“Engineers solve the world’s problems,” she said. “It used to be kids interested in engineering were math experts and the calculator was their best friend, [but] now the world is more complex and we need outside-the-box thinking.”
Whether a student is interested in math, computers, the environment, the outdoors, working alone or with people, Ashley said there is a place for that individual in modern engineering.
“The video the Van Buren students created was simply elegant,” she said. “It was well produced, well put together and they really took it to heart.”
Contest entries may be viewed at www.youtube/com/user/SWColeEngineering?feature=mhee.