Chapin engineering students create interactive holiday exhibits

Interactive child-like scenes out of movies and pop culture with lots of moving parts fill Chapin High engineering teacher Juan Clague’s classroom.

These projects, hoping to possibly make it into a children’s hospital one day, are the works of sophomores in Clague’s Principals of Engineering class. Groups of seven worked on their respective winter projects for several weeks.

“The objective is to create an exhibit that can be used in the waiting room of a children’s hospital to entertain patients while they are waiting in the hospital,” Clague said. “This is something that they do here at school with the goal of producing something of value to the community.”

Ava Maldonado’s project takes children on a tour of seasons in Central Park. The mechanisms within make objects move and spin for an interactive look at the four seasons.

“We were trying to represent what the park looks like year around,” Maldonado said. “Being able to put all this stuff together to convey that is pretty nice.”

Her teammate Trace McKissack liked how the group aspect of the project. The future biomedical engineer hopes to work on prosthetics one day.

“It teaches you a lot about how we have to learn together, what everyone’s skills are and how they can contribute to the group,” said McKissack. “Also, the mechanical part is very important to what I want to do in the future.”

This year’s annual winter engineering projects differs in a variety of ways. First, judges were zoomed in to review projects instead of live as in traditional years. And secondly, Clague is encouraging students to use the projects for the upcoming Technology Student Association competition.

“Before it was a one-shot deal in which students work for several weeks to build their exhibit and the day after judging, disassemble it,” Clague said. “This year, students can move on to the next step and continue with the TSA animatronics competition. All they need to do is add the controls.”

Author: Reneé de Santos | Photos by Leonel Monroy El Paso ISD