STEAM Jam and Tech Wars inspire B-B students

By on March 25, 2019
Byron-Bergen STEAM Jam team
 with STEAM Lab Teacher Craig Schroth. 
Photo by Diane Taylor

Byron-Bergen STEAM Jam team with STEAM Lab Teacher Craig Schroth. Photo by Diane Taylor

On Thursday, March 14, eleven 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 JAM and Tech Wars.

Tech Wars, now in its twelfth year, annually invites students to compete in activities to challenge their innovation, creativity, and resourcefulness. 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 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 Sr. High School 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 the rest of the competitions, they’re excited to prepare for next year. I’m excited to help them hone their skills and expand their vision of what’s possible.”

STEAM Jam is a new event with ninety 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 encourage them 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 with them to Junior and Senior High School.”

“I had so much fun at STEAM Jam!” said fifth grader Gianna Graff. “One of my favorite parts was being able to see the 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 an LED 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!”

Provided information

Byron-Bergen STEAM Jam team completing their basketball tower. Photo by Diane Taylor

Byron-Bergen STEAM Jam team completing their basketball tower. Photo by Diane Taylor

 

Above, Jay Wolcott and Meshari Alnouri. Photo by Gretchen Spittler

Above, Jay Wolcott and Meshari Alnouri.
Photo by Gretchen Spittler