Oak Prairie Junior High in Homer Glen, IL received a Fluid Power Challenge grant. Here’s a report from the teacher . . .

By Kyle Jacobson
STEM Teacher & Yearbook Advisor
Oak Prairie Junior High

Thank you for the NFPA Fluid Power Challenge grant! I used the entire grant, and then some, to purchase enough Hydraulics 4-in-1 kits (mini scissor lift, mini platform lifter, mini cherry picker, mini excavator) so that each of my 94 students had one hydraulic machine to build and test.

The students had a choice of which machine to build. They were told that they would need to read the directions, build the machine and test that it worked. The students would then need to personalize their machines in a creative, neat way.


On April 2, they would return to school and have a contest against the same machines in the class. They would need to decide on the mass they would lift, and secure the mass on their machine. They had one minute to full extend (lift) and full retract the piston to count as one lift. If the weights fell off, the lift did not count.

During that one-minute, they could try to repair or reset their hydraulic machine. After that minute they multiplied the mass times the number of times lifted.

The students had a great time and were challenged by following the building directions, correcting mistakes they made and understanding how the placement of the fulcrum point and piston location affected the amount of mass that they could lift.

On April 3, the students had to put themselves into teams of four to operate one of each kind of machine within one minute. If they failed, they had five minutes to fix the problem and determine the mass they would lift. Once all team members had competed, the total mass lifted determined the winning team, and their reward was a can of Coke Zero each; yum.

They had a great time, all while learning (please don’t tell them, though).