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8 schools compete in battle of minds

Rex Barber • Feb 8, 2012 at 12:03 AM

Richard Brandenburgh was given some tape, mousetraps, some sticks and paper clips and told to design a catapult for disposing of paper cups in a trash can.

The task was not easy, to say the least.

But Brandenburgh said patience and preparation are two virtues learned in the Technology Student Association.

“There’s a lot of that, especially solving a problem you didn’t even know of until the day you got there,” he said.

Brandenburgh, a senior at West Greene High School in Mosheim, was one of about 100 area high school and middle school students competing in the annual TSA competition at David Crockett High School Tuesday.

The competition included contests in architectural modeling, computer aided drafting projects, construction renovation, debating technological issues, CO2 dragster design, flight endurance, robotics, music production, technical problem solving and others.

The mousetrap paper cup disposer was part of the problem-solving contest. The device for most students in this competition resembled a catapult of sorts, with an element used for crushing the cup before it was launched toward a nearby trash can.

Brandenburgh joined TSA as a freshman. That year he took a technology course and discovered TSA. He liked learning about technology. The TSA amplifies that experience, he said.

“I liked designing things on paper and then building them,” Brandenburgh said.

Mark Bowles, technology engineering teacher and TSA sponsor at West Greene, said the TSA has been around for years.

“And our main goal here in Upper East Tennessee is to, again, you know, get these local schools together and get these students and let them showcase their talents in the different areas of technology,” Bowles said.

Area schools participating in this year’s TSA competition included David Crockett, West Greene, Daniel Boone High School, Cherokee High School, Unicoi County High School, Sullivan Central High School, Bluff City Middle School and Rogersville City Middle School.

“They get a lot out of the competitions,” Bowles said of what the students learn. “It allows personal growth for them. It allows for opportunities outside of school. And also a basic understanding of how to utilize technology and how to apply it to their everyday lives.”

Kristina King, a senior at David Crockett, joined TSA as a sophomore because she has always been interested in engineering, mainly because of her dad’s influence, she said.

Her favorite thing is to do architectural modeling, which was what she did during the competition Tuesday as she modeled a building using a computer program and then built a scale model using special cardboard.

“I like the whole hands-on, designing my own stuff, building it my own way,” she said. “And I like the mathematical side of it too, because I’m a calculus student. Scaling everything down is just awesome fun.”

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