Washers, paper clips, twine, and lots of tape. The battle of innovation began at Colorado State University on Feb. 15, in the Morgan Library Event Hall.
High school students from Fort Morgan, Brush, Brighton, Fort Lupton and Valley participated in the annual Tests of Engineering Aptitude, Mathematics and Science – TEAMS – event, sponsored nationally by the Technology Student Association. TEAMS is a three-part engineering competition that allows students an opportunity to show off their skills by applying creativity and teamwork to an engineering problem.
ISTeC, CSU’s Information Science and Technology Center, sponsors the local TEAMS event, and focuses on inviting students who may not have the resources to pursue a STEM education.
Tom Siller, CSU engineering professor of 31 years and co-chair of the Education Committee for ISTeC, played a large part in putting on the event.
“There are a lot of competitions for high school and middle school kids, and most of them draw from well-funded schools,” Siller said. “We saw this as an opportunity to give kids from other schools a chance to come and compete because they don’t always get this opportunity.”
A total of 69 students had all submitted an in-depth essay before the competition, and then spent the first 90 minutes of the event on a multiple-choice test of engineering knowledge. Then the hum of student collaboration filled the Event Hall as they worked within the limits of time and materials provided.
Isabella Chiovitti-Shifty, a sophomore from Brighton High School, and her group had successfully completed the design challenge: to lift a teddy bear from the floor to the table using a mechanism they had built from the available materials.
“I love the adrenaline rush. This is great, my team, they’re the best team anyone could ask for. They are the tape to my contraption,” Chiovitti-Shifty said. “I like competing. I like being on a team and seeing everyone else’s strengths and weaknesses.”
Daniel Banuelos has worked with TRiO’s educational talent search for 28 years. The program, now part of the Access Center at CSU, works with first-generation and low-income students helping foster success for the future.
“I love watching the kids work. They are smart kids, and when they come into this room they get to really do something hands-on. They really get to shine in their intelligence and that’s the part I love the best,” Banuelos said. “Sometimes students have doubts about their own abilities, especially first-gen and low-income kids. When they come in here, they work collaboratively with a group. They are able to excel and work together and put their ideas together and it shows their intelligence which I believe – I know – that they have.”
Groups of students who performed well in the TEAMS event will have the chance to participate in a national competition during the national TSA conference in Washington, D.C., this summer. Results of the local competition will be available later this semester.