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February 12, 2020 - 5:13pm
posted by Billie Owens in GLOW Tech Wars, STEAM, GCC, education, news.

Submitted photo and press release:

The 13th GLOW Region Tech Wars will be held Thursday, March 12, at Genesee Community College's Batavia Campus. The annual Tech Wars brings middle and high school students from all 24 of the Genesee, Livingston, Orleans and Wyoming (GLOW) region's school districts together in teams to work collaboratively to demonstrate their technical expertise through innovative, mind-expanding competitions.

Each year, with a forward vision and new developments in technology, Tech Wars introduces new events. 2020 is no different. This year's competitors (students) have chosen from close to 30 available competitions to showcase -- and put to the test -- some basic and some extremely intricate and innovative technology. Regardless of the event, all of the students enjoy the opportunity to see their hard work come to fruition.

Tech Wars event details, rules and competition descriptions are available at techwarsgccny.org.

Tech Wars 2020 events brings back some favorites such as: Battlebot Soccer; the Regatta; Bridge; CO2 Cars; King of the Hill; Logo Design; Sculpture; Onsite CAD Drawing and Reverse Engineering CAD; Skimmer Cars; Sumo Bots; Tractor Pull and Trebuchet; and will introduce the all new, Lumber Labyrinth.

In addition to Lumber Labyrinth, Tech Wars 2020 also introduces Skimmer Cars and Technical Drawing for the middle schoolers as well as other legacy events such as Catapult; Paper Airplane; Rube Goldberg; and Sculpture. Back by popular demand for all participants is the Mystery Event, which allows students to use their creativity and skills in an on-demand, timed situation.

For the second year, Tech Wars also features STEAM Jam @ Tech Wars, an event held simultaneously for third- to fifth-grade students from GLOW region schools. More than 100 students will participate in various team building and mind-stimulating activities that foster skills in Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics (STEAM). As an educational precursor to a future in technology, STEAM Jam participants will have the opportunity to observe the fun and exciting Tech Wars 2020 competitions.

Educational support for Tech Wars and STEAM Jam comes from the dedication, state-of-the art facilities and quality instruction in the GLOW region schools. Teachers share ideas and explore new technology and developments through both a Regional STEAM Teachers' cohort and a Regional Tech Teachers' Cohort.

Focused on local economic development, the newly established Regional Tech Teachers' Cohort collaboratively cultivates relationships between the schools and local professionals to provide information sessions, field trips, school to work opportunities, and more to enhance student learning experiences. Through these experiences and relationships students begin to form goals and a vision for their own futures.

The efforts of programs like Tech Wars, STEAM Jam and the Cohorts are already making a difference with many thanks to community support. Tech Wars 2020 has been presented with a record number of sponsors Gold Sponsors: Liberty Pumps, Northeast Industrial Tech Inc., Turnbull Heating & Air Conditioning, Graham Corporation, Amada Tool America Inc., and Glow with Your Hands. Silver and Bronze Sponsors: LandPro Equipment, Oxbo International, Takeform, DWB Enterprises and the Varysburg Lions Club.

"The support of local businesses and organizations in this region is second to none," Ann Valento, ACE program specialist said. "Without these organizations and other generous local donors, Tech Wars would not be possible.

"Our local sponsors also serve as volunteers, judges, and spend their valuable time talking with students and inspiring entrepreneurial spirit. In addition, the businesses that participate in these events get an exclusive opportunity to meet and network with the future workforce in our community."

Tech Wars is also proudly sponsored and hosted by Genesee Community College and its ACE (Accelerated College Enrollment) program. The ACE team and the entire GCC community work diligently to provide a safe and appropriately-equipped environment to showcase the students' technological skills and creativity.

Tech Wars is among several dynamic programs giving students the opportunity to learn hands-on, often in business settings and with industry professionals. The ACE Program's Career Pathways is committed to helping students explore career options and make a smooth transition from high school to further education and/or a career.

For more information about the Career Pathways programs, please contact Ann Valento, Genesee Community College Career Pathways Specialist at 585-3430055, ext. 6316, or [email protected].

October 29, 2019 - 1:25pm

Photos and information from Gretchen Spittler, Byron-Bergen Communications Specialist.

BERGEN -- Craig Schroth’s fifth- and sixth-grade STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts and Mathematics) Lab classes are carving pumpkins. But, there are no pumpkins in the room.

Students sit at their computers and each one builds and carves their own virtual pumpkin in a three-dimensional computer-aided design (CAD) program. When they are complete, Schroth will print them on a 3-D printer.

“It takes a long time, but it’s cool,” said one student.

“Cool” is the word most students use to describe the project.

The pumpkins start to take shape. Students “group” repeated elliptical spheres to create scalloped edges, then add a cylindrical stem. On each screen, orange shapes come together to form what is, unmistakably, a pumpkin.

To hollow out the pumpkin, students place a sphere in the middle. It does not affect the surface design but “it makes printing more efficient,” Schroth explains. “I have two printers and many students and I want to fill the display case with as many projects as possible.”

The students have been following instructions up to this point, but now they get creative. Students add jack-o-lantern faces using various shapes and designs. Eyes appear as stars and hearts. One pumpkin has sunglasses and a mustache.

When compared with traditional pumpkin carving, one students argues that she doesn’t like getting pumpkin guts on her hands. Another argues that virtual pumpkins have no seeds, a favorite snack of hers. When asked if he would like to continue working in 3-D design in high school, another student simply blurts, “Yes!”

“This project has been a great way for students to explore the use of computer-aided design programs in 3-D modeling and prototyping,” Schroth said. “Students are applying skills that they have learned in math class through angles, measurement, and geometry to design a model they can actually hold on to with 3-D printing.”

In the front hallway of the Elementary School, a large display case holds a tractor and wagon, both built by third-grade students. The tractor is driven by the STEAM Lab robot mascot, named Byron, and the tractor displays rows of 3-D printed jack-o-lanterns. Picked fresh daily. Well, printed fresh daily.

May 31, 2019 - 2:07pm
posted by Billie Owens in Byron-Bergen Elementary School, education, news, STEAM.

Above, a student plays math game.

Submitted photos and press release:

Bergen -- Byron-Bergen Elementary School presented the inaugural STEAM Fair on Tuesday, May 21.

STEAM -- Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts, and Mathematics -- students shared their accomplishments with their schoolmates and community. The fair was the culmination of months of learning, exploring and creativity.

“The most amazing thing about this event is how accomplished the work is,” said Byron-Bergen Elementary School Principal Brian Meister. “The students really take ownership of the day.

"They supervise the games that they have designed, present the science and art projects that they completed, and are truly proud of their achievements. We are all proud.”

During the school day, students enjoyed activities including yoga ball plinko. The classic game of chance transformed into a fully interactive, outdoor, relay race as students rolled yoga balls down a hill of bumper posts to try to earn the most points in a given time period.

While outside, students also learned how to reuse scavenged items to make new products like Big Head Boxes with visiting students from the Rochester Institute of Technology. Inside, students enjoyed face painting, math games, science project presentations, and a K-6 visual art exhibition.

In the evening, the fair opened to the public featuring many of the day’s activities in addition to interactive robot basketball, a robot golf course designed by Byron-Bergen students, and virtual reality field trips.

Photos by Gretchen Spittler.

Below, an RIT student demonstrates “Big Head Box.”

Below, a student shows artwork.

Below, students play yoga ball plinko.

February 28, 2019 - 3:15pm
posted by Billie Owens in GCC, education, tech wars, STEAM, news.

File photo from Tech Wars at GCC in 2012.

Press release:

Anyone interested in watching teams of teens and young adults embrace, engage and enjoy all facets of new and existing technology should come to Genesee Community College Batavia Campus for the 12th Annual Tech Wars on Thursday, March 14.

More than 750 students from 24 regional school districts will be competing in 30 different events and hands-on activities that use technology of all kinds.

New to Tech Wars this year is STEAM Jam @ Tech Wars! (STEAM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math). STEAM Jam is a way for students in third through fifth grades around the GLOW region to be exposed to the opportunity of Tech Wars once they reach middle school.

STEAM Jam students will have their own competition including activities with building/engineering, circuit and robotic/coding challenges. Part of their day will be to tour and observe the multiple venues and competitions of Tech Wars, and plan for future participation when they enter middle and high school.

The main Tech Wars event matches area middle and high school students against each other in many competitions including the Robotic Tractor Pull, Catapults and SUMO Bots in the gymnasium, the Regatta in the Aquatics Center, and Bridge Designing in the central Forum.

Also a favored feature is Battlebot Soccer where high school students design and build a remote control robot to compete in a soccer match.

Tech Wars is hosted by the College's ACE (Accelerated College Enrollment) Program for students in the GLOW (Genesee, Livingston, Orleans and Wyoming counties) region.

The event brings area middle and high school students to GCC's Batavia Campus where teams of students work collaboratively to demonstrate their technical expertise through innovative, mind-expanding competitions.

The students arrive at GCC at 8:30 a.m. with the competitions scheduled to run from 9:30 a.m. - 12:15 p.m. followed by the awards ceremony at 12:30.

Students participate in a variety of challenges, many in groups of two or more. Some competitions involve bringing projects they've been working on to GCC, while others provide a more spontaneous opportunity or "mystery" event where materials and directions are shared that day.

The winning Tech Wars 2019 logo, designed by Dylan Duffy from Dansville High School is a great example of the creativity and hard work that happens well in advance of the overall program.

"Tech Wars is a great opportunity for students and instructors to work together toward a common goal," Ann Valento, GCC Career Pathways program specialist said. "It fosters an atmosphere of encouragement and teamwork and the hard-work of each participant is acknowledged and appreciated. It is simply a fun way for students to realize and tap into their talents!"

In addition to the Battlebot Soccer competition listed above, there are 29 other events to challenge students in an array of technologies. The 2019 Middle School events include: Catapult, CO2 Car Challenges, Logo Design, Mystery Project, Paper Airplane, Rube Goldberg, Sculpture and Tower.

The 2019 High School events include: Battlebot Soccer, Bridge Design, Architectural Design in CAD, CO2 Car Challenges, King of the Hill, Logo Design, Mystery Project, On Site CAD Project, Regatta, Reverse Engineered CAD Drawing, Robotic Tractor Pull Limited and Unlimited, Sculpture Event, Skimmer Car, SUMO Bots and Trebuchet which must launch a projectile at a given target 40 feet away. 

For the rules and details on all these competitions, click here.  

Tech Wars is supported by significant sponsorships. The Gold Sponsors this year include: Liberty Pumps, Turnbull Heating & Air Conditioning, Northeast Industrial Tech Inc., Graham Corporation and Amada Tool America Inc.

"Without the generosity of our sponsors and volunteers, the dedication of our area technology teachers and the commitment of our participating students, this event would not be possible," Valento said. "We are grateful for all."

The ACE Program's Career Pathways helps students explore career options and make a smooth transition from high school to college and ultimately to professional careers. Tech Wars is among several dynamic programs giving students the opportunity to learn hands-on, often in business settings and with industry professionals.

For more information, please contact Ann Valento, Genesee Community College Career Pathways program specialist at 585-343-0055, ext. 6316, or [email protected].

December 12, 2018 - 3:46pm

Byron-Bergen STEAM students, pictured from left: Logan Fregoe, Noah Clare, Adam Piper, Ian Pulcini, Kendall Pape and Carter Kuipers.

Submitted photos and press release:

On Nov. 9th, a team of Byron-Bergen STEAM students broke the world record currently posted on the Guinness website for distance traveled by a rubber-band-powered car.

Many people dream of joining the ranks of record-holders in the Guinness Book of World Records. Though most of these dreams go unrealized, Craig Schroth’s students are using engineering skills to earn Guinness recognition.

Schroth, a STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics) lab teacher at Byron-Bergen Elementary School, challenged his sixth-grade students to use simple machines -- a wheel and axle -- to build vehicles powered only by a wound up rubber band. Students used three class periods to methodically make changes and improve their designs.

“We moved the rubber band further forward,” explained sixth-grade student Adam Piper. “Then we added more rubber bands because the more we could wind it up, the further (the car) would go.”

In addition to the number of rubber bands, the design team added bigger wheels wrapped in rubber bands for increased road friction and elongated the distance between axles.

On Nov. 9, the team of Noah Clare, Logan Fregoe, Ian Pulcini, and Adam Piper broke the standing World Record with a run of 1,071 cm. According to the Guinness website, the current record for distance traveled by a rubber band car is 895 cm and was set on July 13, 2015.

“This STEAM design challenge not only involved real-world problem solving within the physical sciences, but it also included improving their design by collecting data through trial and error,” Schroth said. “Most groups were able to improve on their personal best of distance traveled by utilizing the engineering design process. All of the participating classes did a great job.”

Inspired by the sixth-grade success, the fifth-grade team of Carter Kuipers and Kendall Pape surpassed the previous winning distance by an additional 228 cm on Nov. 15, making 1,299 cm the longest distance achieved.

Schroth has contacted the Guinness organization to have the distances submitted for official approval. All of the participating students eagerly await a response.

Below: Adam Piper, Ian Pulcini, and Noah Clare prepare their rubber-band car for a test run.

Below: Sixth-grade team tests their rubber-band car in the hallway outside the STEAM lab.

Below: The fifth- (left) and sixth-grade (right) teams prepare to race head to head.

June 2, 2017 - 7:36am
posted by Howard B. Owens in John Kennedy School, schools, education, stem, STEAM, news, batavia.

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Press release:

John Kennedy Intermediate School has received a $5,000 Lowe’s Toolbox for Education grant to purchase "Math and Movement" materials for The JK STEAM Program.

“We had the Math and Movement day with Suzy Koontz in April and can now purchase mats of our own to have here at John Kennedy thanks to Lowes,” said Melissa Calandra, who spearheaded John Kennedy’s STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Math) Program for fourth-graders this year and will take charge of the STEAM lab for all JK students, grades 2-4, next year.

During the Math and Movement day, students moved to the mathematics lessons – emphasizing patterns, stepping out calculations, and working out concepts on large mats. They were able to practice addition, subtraction, telling time, multiplication, division, fractions, place value, and geometry – and with physical movement incorporated into the brain work, the information was a lot of fun – and better retained.

Lowe’s, which seeks to approve grants that improve learning communities, noted that, “These materials will allow for a kinesthetic, multisensory approach to teaching math that incorporates physical exercise, stretching, and cross-body movements. Using the mats, students are ‘moving to the numbers.’ ” The mats will be ordered by the end of this school year to arrive in time for use next year in the STEAM lab. 

All K-12 public schools in the United States are eligible for the Toolbox for Education program.  More information is available at www.ToolboxforEducation.com.

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May 22, 2017 - 4:10pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in STEAM, stem, schools, education, John Kennedy School, news.

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Press release:

By all counts, the Fourth Grade Innovators STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math) Program that was started at Batavia’s John Kennedy Intermediate School this year is a huge success – whether being measured by student enthusiasm, teacher observation of growing skills, or meaningful partnerships with the community. It’s no surprise, then, that plans are in the works for next year, including greater expansion into the younger grades at John Kennedy.

What did come as a surprise, however, was recognition from beyond our community. The Program won the Elementary STEM (Science/ Technology/ Engineering/ Mathematics) Innovation Award from The Finger Lakes STEM Hub and was honored at a reception in early May at St. John Fisher College. The Hub is the regional arm of the Empire State STEM Learning Network -- a statewide, community‐led collaborative that works to advance STEM education.

The Finger Lakes STEM Hub covers a nine-county area (Genesee, Livingston, Monroe, Ontario, Orleans, Seneca, Wayne, Wyoming and Yates counties) and consists of leaders from K-12 education, higher education, business, government, and community organizations who work together to advance the interdisciplinary teaching and learning of STEM disciplines with the goal of sustaining economic vitality. As part of their commitment to students, they identify and highlight exemplary STEM activities and events that are engaging, exciting, and empowering for students.

JK’s STEAM Program was recognized as being such a program.

Evolving out of a request last summer by fourth grade teacher Melissa Calandra to do some STEAM activities once a month, JK principal Paul Kesler was quick to give his approval and support.

“STEAM is so important for young students,” said Kesler, “basically because science, technology, and math are really lifelong concepts that students are going to need in whatever job that they have, but especially because so many jobs in the future are going to have a math and science emphasis. It’s important that our students gain experience now.”

To help bring the idea into fruition, they were joined by fourth-grade teacher Jennifer Sloan, ACE teacher Karen Shuskey, and librarian Katelin LaGreca.

“This team,” Kesler said, “really got the ball rolling and, as it got going, we were able to start partnering with GCEDC (Genesee County Economic Development Center) in terms of bringing local businesses in to help us and see how we can partner with them.”

In its promotion of regional economic development and growth, the GCEDC advocates for the education and skill development that students need to equip themselves for meeting that growth. Their help and support was extremely valuable to the planning and implementation of the STEAM opportunities for the JK students.

Each month, all of the fourth graders took part in the planned STEAM opportunity. Through the year, these activities helped students explore DNA and living systems, structures and design, robotics, coding/computer programming, graphic design, 3D printing, electrical circuits, math and movement, robotics in agricultural, and ecology/environmentalism. Nearly every hands-on activity was introduced to the students by a professional from the community who had expertise in that area, so the students were also introduced to an array of careers.

It was one of the community presenters who told the team about and encouraged them to apply for the STEM Hub award. Despite coming at a particularly busy time of the school year, they were so proud of the program that they wanted to make the time to enter the competitive application process.

Much to their delight, they won!

While it was very exciting to be held up as an example of fruitful partnerships with the community that help students learn about and grow in an increasingly needed skill set, it is even more exciting to contemplate the future of JK STEAM.

“For next year, we’re looking at an expansion to include third and second graders,” Kesler said. “We’re opening up a STEAM lab next year. Melissa Calandra is going to lead that, and it will allow us to offer activities to students once a week versus once a month. We’re really excited about that!”

“My hope,” he continued, “is that students will see how interesting science, technology, and math can be, and, in the long-term, that they recognize the opportunities coming available to them in the STEAM field.”

September 24, 2016 - 12:30pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in John Kennedy School, STEAM, stem, schools, education, news, batavia.

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Fourth-graders at John Kennedy School on Friday were introduced to the STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art+Design, and Math) curriculum with science demonstrations, and some hands-on experiences, led by Batavia High School science teachers Nathan Korzelius (top photo) and Burton Howell. 

In these photos, Korzelius talks about the properties of lycopodium clavatum, a powder derived from a species of moss. As Korzelius demonstrated, the powder floats on water and if a person sticks his or her hand in, the powder keeps the hand dry. When the powder is concentrated near a flame, it will explode in a flash of flame and lights (side fact: lycoduium was used by early photographers as a flash powder).

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