Our grade six and seven STEM group went to the Gravity Car competition last Friday. (STEM is Science, Technology, Engineering and Math.) Our little group has been doing projects and challenges related to science, technology, engineering and math. The latest challenge was the Junior Skills Canada competition. To get there, we met once a week on Fridays. When that wasn't enough, we started meeting after school on Thursdays.

We first started cars at Christmas break. The kids' first step was to help cut the plywood we used to make a race track of our own. Next, we were thinking about car bodies, wheels and axles.

Wheels were the biggest challenge. The rules forbid "parts from a kit". A winning car has wheels that are sturdy, lightweight, centered on the axle and aligned properly. Everything had to be built with a hand-drill, mitre saw and sandpaper. Our kids' solutions included CD wheels with a rotating cardboard hub, CD wheels glued to a shishkabob axle and my personal favourite: CDs using necklace beads as a hub.

Competition day was Friday, February 21st. All four of our teams managed to get a car ready in time - a pretty good achievement considering that one day earlier, only one of our teams had a car ready. Working under that kind of pressure is difficult but our kids succeeded.

The race was at Vanier Secondary. Our grade six and seven students were up against students as old as grade ten in schools as far away as Parksville. The room was filled with 15 teams and a racetrack that barely squeezed in.

We raced 15 rounds of 7 races each. Endurance mattered. We had breakage. We had problem-solving. We had fixes. We got back in the game. We had wins. We had losses. We had times our car fell over. We had times our car fell over and slid across the finish line for a win. But we learned and we have ideas of how to build better cars next year.

Our Gaglardi students did us proud!