South Middle School Maglev Club members won six of the top 21 awards at the 26th annual Middle School Maglev Contest held at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Brookhaven National Laboratory in mid-March. They garnered the most awards of the nine schools entered. The competition is based on the concept of the magnetic levitation technology invented by two Brookhaven Lab retirees, scientist Gordon Danby and engineer James Powell. Using the principle that magnets of the same “poles” repel each other, students built vehicles that float on a particular track.
“In each individual category, the vehicles are timed to one one-hundredth of a second going down the track. Sensors are spaced 12-feet apart, giving each contestant the same exact distance for their vehicle to travel. Speed alone does not determine who wins. Each student must submit a detailed portfolio that describes why he/she chose his/her design, what changes were made along the way, along with sketches and orthographic drawings showing the exact car,” coach, advisor and technology teacher Randy Lane explained. “In some cases a nicely done portfolio may project a contestant ahead of someone whose car traveled faster, but whose portfolio was not done as well.”
Maglev Team members include sixth-graders Andrew Dea, Collin Li, Neal Sodhi, Jansen Wong and John Xie, and seventh-graders Reid Fleishman, Robert Gan, Yangen (Stephen) Ye and Kobe Zheng.
John Xie and Jansen Wong took first and second places, respectively, in the Self-Propelled Other event.
Neal Sodhi and Stephen Ye took first and third places, respectively, in Wind Power.
Reid Fleishman finished third in Gravity.
Collin Li took third place in the Scale Model Design category.
“This is the second time a South Middle Maglev Team has come home winners with six trophies. In 2013, we had similar success at the Cradle of Aviation competition,” said Lane.
“The Maglev Club meets Wednesdays after school from October to March. The club assembles in the Technology lab where our state-of-the-art track is located,” Lane continued. “Members are taught the importance of magnet polarity, friction, proper weight distribution, balance and symmetry. All of these factors determine whether or not the vehicle will float and how fast it will go. Students choose their own category and type of vehicle to make. Then the work begins.”