Vernier Announces Winners of 2015 Engineering Contest

Vernier Software & Technology recently named the winners of its 2015 Engineering Contest. The three winning educators – Tate Rector of Beebe Public Schools in Beebe, AR; Ross Gunderson of Delaware County Christian School in Newtown Square, PA; and, Gioya De Souza-Fennelly of Columbia University’s Teachers College in New York, NY – were chosen for their innovative teaching of engineering concepts and practices using Vernier sensors in the classroom.

Each winner received $1,000 in cash, $3,000 in Vernier technology, and $1,500 toward expenses to attend the 2015 National Science Teachers’ Association (NSTA) STEM Forum and Expo in Minneapolis, MN or the 2015 American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) conference in Seattle, WA.

The Winning Projects

In “Hot Pocket Rocket,” Rector challenged his 8th grade engineering students to present a solution to an everyday problem (being burned on the roof of your mouth) using Vernier sensors with LEGO® MINDSTORMS® Education EV3. His goal was for students to make connections with the engineering practices identified in the NGSS.

In “Turning a Staple into a Light Bulb,” Gunderson had his students create a light bulb from an ordinary staple. This challenge, which was the culminating activity in his Materials Engineering course, focused on NGSS standard HS-PS3-3, in which students design, build, and refine a device that works within given constraints to convert one energy form into another.

In “The Solar Oven,” De Souza-Fennelly, who teaches STEM/Physical Science Curriculum and Methods to pre-service science teachers, had her students design and conduct an original middle school/high school hands-on, physical science activity that uses engineering practices, as set forth by the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). One activity challenged students to design a solar oven.

To learn more about the 2015 Engineering Contest winners and to watch videos of the projects in action, visit To learn more about the 2016 Engineering Contest, visit