by Bonnie Butcher

More than 100 students from surrounding area middle and high schools gathered on Saturday, March 4 for the third annual So You Think You Can STEM competition. The event, hosted by the University of West Georgia College of Education (COE) and College of Science and Mathematics (COSM), was themed “The Business of STEM.”

“This competition draws our brightest middle and high school students to campus, engaging them in problem-solving challenges that draw on their creativity and skills in science, technology, engineering and math,” said COE Dean Dr. Dianne Hoff. “Passion for these fields begins at a very young age, and we are so proud to encourage these students toward a bright future.”

The students operated in small teams for several workshop sessions involving product design and construction, testing and marketing planning.

The day concluded with presentations of products to the Wolf Den, a group of professional experts in the fields of STEM. Mimicking the famed television show Shark Tank, this was an opportunity for students to consider the practical applications of ideas, a common goal for STEM educators.

“We are here to give our students the experience of how to use science and math in the real world,” said Dr. Letitia Crosby, assistant principal at Lee Middle School in Sharpsburg. “We wanted to show them that science and math is truly fun. This is a great opportunity for students to demonstrate how to apply what they have been learning in the classroom. Today is hands-on activity at its best.”

Students drop an object tied to balloons from a balcony.So You Think You Can STEM focuses on collaboration, innovation and thinking outside the box. It provides a unique opportunity for students to explore the areas of STEM and learn through a dynamic and engaging approach. For some students, the event draws them back year after year.

“I came back to STEM this year because I really enjoyed it,” said Baylor Kahlar, a seventh grade student at Woodland Middle School. “I hoped it would be just as fun as last year, and it is.”

For Colleen Corp, mother of a participating student, the event is also becoming an annual occurrence.

“We are here for our second year and hope to be back again,” said Corp. “I am very excited to see so many young women participating. This has been such a rewarding experience for my daughter.”

The all-day event was made possible with the help of volunteers and members of the UWG community. Lindsey Robinson, director of COE’s Fusion Center, played a significant role in the development and function of the competition.

“UWG faculty, staff and students came together to host an event for youth who are passionate about STEM,” said Robinson. “It is great to see students enthusiastic about STEM and willing to give up a Saturday to engage in an educational event.”

Video by Derick Lingerfelt

Posted on March 9, 2017