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STEAM Jam

March 20, 2019 - 12:48pm

Above: Byron-Bergen STEAM Jam team with STEAM Lab teacher Craig Schroth. Photo credit: Diane Taylor.

Submitted photos and press release:

On Thursday, March 14, 11 Byron-Bergen fifth-grade students and seven senior high school students in grades 9 through 11 joined hundreds of others from Genesee, Livingston, Orleans, and Wyoming counties at Genesee Community College for STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering And Math) Jam and Tech Wars.

Tech Wars, now in its 12th year, annually invites students to compete in activities to challenge their innovation, creativity, and resourcefulness.

Byron-Bergen Jr./Sr. High School Technology teacher Jay Wolcott, who has a background in commercial manufacturing, was one of the originators of the competition and annually judges the SUMO bots event.

Other events include CO2 car races, architectural CAD (computer-assisted design), logo design, and the regatta -- during which students ride full-size cardboard boats across the GCC pool.

“Tech Wars encourages students to think outside the box while still maintaining the required parameters,” says Wolcott. “We want something different, cutting edge, but it takes real innovation to solve a challenge in a new way while staying within the limits of size, weight, materials or time.”

The Tech Wars participants vie mostly for trophies and bragging rights but, because of the generous sponsorship from regional businesses, two students also receive scholarships.

“Maybe a student isn’t an athlete,” adds Wolcott, “but at Tech Wars they can compete, use their skills, and be part of a team.”

First-year senior high cchool Technology teacher Meshari Alnouri attended his first Tech Wars this year. Although mostly there to observe and become familiar with the events, his students participated in the High School Mystery Event.

"The Mystery Event was a great experience for my students," says Alnouri. "Between participating and watching therest of the competitions, they’re excited to prepare for next year. I’m excited to help them hone their skills andexpand their vision of what’s possible."

STEAM Jam is a new event with 90 elementary school student participants from eight districts. It is the collaborative project of the regional STEAM teachers’ cohort. Byron-Bergen STEAM Lab teacher Craig Schroth was one of the driving forces behind this year’s event.

“STEAM Jam is a celebration,” says Schroth. “We designed three tasks for the students to complete which encouragethem to get excited about science, technology, engineering, arts, and math.

"It is also a great opportunity for the elementary school students to see the older kids at Tech Wars. We hope that they will carry their enthusiasm withthem to junior and senior high school.”

Fifth-grader Gianna Graff said "I had so much fun at STEAM Jam! One of my favorite parts was being able to seethe older kids compete in Robot Soccer. Now, I am so excited for Tech Wars when I get older."

The STEAM Jam challenges asked students to use design to create a swag item incorporating their school logo and anLED light, construct a tower out of cardboard boxes capable of supporting a toy basketball hoop and surviving a “slam dunk,” and code a robot to launch a ball through a hoop from various positions.

“It was a place where I could use my creativity, engineering skills, and artistic abilities,” said fifth-grade participant Simone Scharvogel. “I can't wait to go back!"

Below: Jay Wolcott and Meshari Alnouri. Photo credit: Gretchen Spittler.

Below: Byron-Bergen STEAM Jam team completing their basketball tower. Photo credit: Diane Taylor.

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