Teams of teenagers maneuvered their quadcopters through a series of challenges Saturday during the sixth annual Anti-Gravity Games.
A total of 21 teams from 18 high schools and organizations competed at the Reiver Arena on the Iowa Western Community College campus, navigating their homemade unmanned flying devices through an obstacle course. Teams were scored on completion of the course, time and penalties, along with design.
“It’s all about STEM and teaching it in a fun way,” Brenda Standridge, Google Council Bluffs Data Center site lead, said about the event’s focus on science, technology, engineering and math. “It’s important to get kids excited and stimulated, interested in technology. Seeing the creativity and spirit these students bring to the event is always inspiring.”
The Anti-Gravity Games were cohosted by Google and Iowa Western. More than 80 students participated.
“Designing it, putting it together — and being able to make it fly — was a lot of fun,” said Reed Finnegan, a freshman on the Shenandoah High School team.
“I liked the engineering,” his teammate, sophomore Payton Stephens, said. “And, of course, the flying.”
Getting ready for the competition took about two months, the Shenandoah team members said. That work included designing the quadcopter, using a 3-D printer, soldering pieces together and practicing.
“I thought it was a really fun idea,” said Harlan sophomore Ethan Jorgensen, competing in his second Anti-Gravity Games. Jorgensen and fellow Harlan team member Andrew Wyatt, a freshman, discussed learning about the technology behind the quadcopters, along with strategies for keeping the quadcopter aerodynamic and light for maneuverability.
The event also featured Geek Street with booths offering the change to try out Google Cardboard virtual reality devices and a 3-D printer as well as fun science lessons. The Geek Street science fair showcases interactive and innovative activities and experiments from Google and its community partners “to inspire the tech entrepreneurs of tomorrow in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math,” according to a release.