STEM 2010!

Last week was our third annual STEM Competition! I love STEM Days, and so do the students. In June, I summarized the day’s schedule thusly:

The overall structure of a STEM Competition at our school is as follows:  A brief orientation to the events and schedule, followed by teams of students rotating among six science, math, or engineering events.  After all teams have completed all six events, we gather together for lunch, during which scores are tallied.  Finally we hold an awards ceremony, with trophies for each student on the top three ranked teams, and certificates of participation for all.  Here is the letter we sent faculty explaining an earlier STEM Competition in more detail and asking for help judging events.

The Projectile Launcher!

The Projectile Launcher! Photo © Eric Ford

This year our theme (not all events tied in, but most did) was “Forces At Work and At Play!” The six STEM Day Challenges were as follows:

  • A – The Balloon Distancer!
  • B – The Rotini Roller!
  • C – The Projectile Launcher!
  • D – Volume: 3-D Oatmeal!
  • E – The Angel Hair Tower!
  • F – Cells! Cells! Cells!
The Rotini Roller!

The Rotini Roller! Photo © Eric Ford

In keeping with what we did in the spring, we kept it three to a team. That way there’s less chance of only some teammates working and leaving a group member out; each of the three is needed to participate in order to create a successful product. But, unlike the spring, we let students choose the teams from within their grade level instead of forcing inter-class mingling. Interestingly, a few groups tried to reprise their spring success by re-forming their team, and although those groups did not win, two of the top three teams were comprised of multiple grades!

This year, like every year, we opened it up to all academies at our school (and especially worked with the ninth grade teachers and administrators to have the 9th grade representing strongly). Every academy was represented in the competition, and I was proud to see one team with each member from a different academy (Professional Health, Arts, & Transportation)! Additionally, this time — for the first time ever — we extended invitations to two other schools with whom we share the Project Lead the Way program & advisory board. One of the schools accepted our invitation, and so we played host to a team of students from the Friendship Academy of Engineering & Technology, which was great! Their teacher, too, was able to observe some of the events. Since our annual STEM Competition is one of the things I’m proudest of in terms of my contribution to Patterson High School, I enjoy sharing the ideas and planning know-how that goes into it. I hope it is able to spread outwards to more schools in Baltimore and elsewhere.

The Angel Hair Tower!

The Angel Hair Tower! Photo © Eric Ford

As always, tons of preparation work went into the day. I was at school until 8:20pm the night before, doing various things including counting out packets of 50 angel hairs. We really appreciate the many many members of the Patterson family (teachers, administrators, hall monitors, department heads, an engineer from one of our industry partners, etc.) who helped out that day by judging an event, passing out materials, bringing in STEM supplies, or in other ways. Thank you!

{Again, in case anyone missed it the first time, here’s a direct link to the six events!}



Filed under engineering, math, teaching

4 responses to “STEM 2010!

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