The challenge is to provide students with a way to test cars and planes they have made so they can see how variables change performance. The system needs to be able to be used with minimal teacher input, be easy to set up and use, be able to collect data, withstand the rigours of classroom use, be safe, minimise cables, be portable, work within a defined space, and remove as much technical design requirement as possible from the cars and the planes students make. The solution must provide a quality education outcome and engage students by being fun.
The powerAnchor provides power and steering to student made cars and planes by tethering them to a central anchor point around which they travel. The tether is also the cable by which power is delivered from the PowerAnchor to the vehicle. Student vehicles do not need to consider power or steering. The unit is rechargeable, easily carried, and has quick, snap on legs to raise the unit for aircraft projects. A data logger records the speed of cars or the speed and height of planes. Two vehicles can run on the PowerAnchor so students can set up races.
The importance of STEM education has gained wide recognition over the last decade. We have identified the importance of equipping teachers with even little experience to deliver quality STEM outcomes. Teachers are unequivocally positive and the PowerAnchor is now used in over 600 Australian schools. While the STEM educational product market it crowded, the PowerAnchor has no direct competitor, so every sale represents market growth. The investment in design is bearing fruit in increased sales and customer loyalty. Student projects centre on the efficient use of electric motors and renewable sources of energy.
The PowerAnchor is a collaboration of designers and teachers with special attention to the realities of the classroom, particularly: ease of set up, safety and minimising bottlenecking and teacher intervention. The data logger has become a valued feature. This has given students the ability to quantify the effects of modifications to their designs. They can complete a series of tests changing the value of only one independent variable and record results each time. They can then build a picture of how the independent variable affects performance with the view to find its optimal value. Students start to think like engineers. Fully resourced projects are available which provide all materials to make the projects plus teaching guides and demonstrations.