Clemson Elementary Students Named Grand Champions at JetToy Competition- Pickens Sentinel
By: Billy Cannada
PICKENS COUNTY-Two teams from Clemson Elementary, the "Electric Lemons" and team "JDW" took home highest honors at the Society of Automotive Engineers’ International JetToy competition in Detroit, Michigan last week.
Led by their teacher Meredith Cross, the fifth graders were named Grand Champions at the event. The teams included; Jakob Ables, Will Purkerson, Jacob Zambrano, Dylan Hall, Jonathan Dong, and Stone Ke.
"We are just thrilled to death for them," said Clemson Elementary Principal Ken Weichel. "This is the first year they’ve done it. Meredith Cross took that leap of faith and went into this JetToy competition, just like all of us, a little bit blind. Once success led to another and led to another."
The students competed at school, region, and national levels, and Weichel says their accomplishments show true potential.
"For us, it’s an affirmation of what our children can do," said Weichel. "It shows what they can do when they apply themselves."
The competition requires students to create, design, and engineer cars that are powered by balloons. The cars are judged on speed, accuracy, and distance among other things.
"They went to Detroit, and they were not allowed to bring the cars they competed with before," said Weichel. "They started from scratch, and I believe there were about 120 teams with kids from as far away as New Delhi, India. Everyone had the same materials, and our kids outperformed everybody."
The teams were met with a warm greeting upon their arrival at Clemson. "They are still walking on air," said Weichel. "We had a parade for them when they got back on Friday. We put the whole school out on the soccer field and we had the kids delivered by the Clemson Police. The sirens were running, and blue lights were flashing. Everyone was cheering for them, and we were just proud of them that they could do something like this on their first try."
Weichel says this is the first time a team has taken home top honors outside the state of Michigan.
"It is a compliment to the kids and a compliment to their teacher," said Weichel.
"It was fun to see and fun to watch. You could watch their cars get better with each trial run and each test."
Thanks to some generous sponsors, these students were able to bring Grand Champion honors back to Pickens County, and Weichel says this is a program that will definitely continue in the future.
"Science has changed," said Weichel. "It’s all technology, engineering, problem solving, and critical thinking. That’s what these two three-man teams excelled at."