Gallery+Story: Chapin engineering students create mechanical winter scenes

Students in Chapin’s pre-engineering program took all the training they’ve received so far this school year and used it to show off their skills and spread some holiday cheer.

The sophomores designed holiday and movie-themed displays for the Principles of Engineering Holiday Villages Competition that included lights, motion and sound — all on display in the rotunda last week. The end-of-the-semester event showcased the students’ growing knowledge, skills and spirit.

Some of the holiday movies represented included “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” The Grinch Who Stole Christmas,” Nightmare Before Christmas,” “Charlie & The Chocolate Factory,” and “Polar Express.”

“Throughout the year we’ve done worksheets on this material,” said Alicia Ruiz, whose team recreated The Polar Express. “This gave us hands-on experience with everything we’ve learned up to now. It also lets us use creativity to show the love that’s present this time of the year.”

Ruiz’s display brought to life the different scenes of the movie with lights and movement.

“When the topic of movies came up, we thought of the Polar Express because we had all watched it when we were younger,” she said. “Everyone knew it. It brought back so many memories.”

Their project won top honors for creativity, use of materials, presentation and engineering design. It also swept the Kid’s Choice Awards judged by students from Powell Elementary School in categories like cool moving parts, decorations, artwork and inventiveness and creativity. The Polar Express tied with the Grinch for its wow factor among Powell students.

Zachary Magdeleno, a Chapin student and aspiring biomedical engineer, teamed up with other students to construct a Rudolph display featuring the Island of Misfit Toys.

“I thought it was helpful because we’ve been talking about a multitude of simple machine designs,” he said. “Projects like these help me prepare for what I’ll be doing in college.”

Engineering teacher Juan Clague said the displays were true STEAM projects requiring students to use their knowledge of science, technology, engineering, and math, coupled with art and creativity.

“The level of detail is amazing,” he said. “They hid the mechanisms so that the figures move in a magical way. It’s both beautiful inside and out … like a Swiss clock.”

Story and photos by Reneé de Santos – EPISD