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Building Futures Through STEM Challenge

WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. -- Dozens of students from across central Pennsylvania met in Williamsport Wednesday for a building challenge, and while students were having fun, organizers say the STEM-based event is meant to help build a better future for their students.

Inside the field house at Pennsylvania College of Technology in Williamsport, you'll find dozens of machines made out of K'NEX.

Dozens of schools from central Pennsylvania were on hand for the fourth annual K'NEX STEM Design Challenge.

It's a STEM-based event put on by BLaST IU 17 that encourages students to use their imaginations to create a machine and a scenario where it can be used.

BLaST IU 17 supports school districts in Bradford, Lycoming, Sullivan, and Tioga counties.

Student Vera Shadle and her teammates from Donald E. Shick Elementary School in Loyalsock Township decided to build a crane they're using to save people from a burning building. One of the students even pretended to be a Newswatch 16 reporter at the scene.

"It took us about three months to finish our crane, and we had to build our crane, and then we had to start practicing and build that," said Shadle.

"They are having to be reflective and work together, and it's really preparing them, not just for the next grade level, but post K-12 whether they choose to jump into a career or college," said Rob McKenzie from BLaST IU 17.

The folks over at BLaST may be helping run the event, but they are not the ones judging the competition. A group of professionals from the community will pick the winner.

"I think that this type of thing right here that these kids are doing is, you know, thinking outside of the box and that's a big part of making things better," said Brian Bonislowski of Allison Crane & Rigging.

Newswatch 16 was there as fourth grader Devyn Winner and Declan Dougherty from Loyalsock Township gave their presentation.

"It was fun. It seemed to work really well," Winner said.

"Still nervous because, I mean, we might win!" Dougherty added.

The top teams in Williamsport will head to a state competition at Harrisburg University on May 17.

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