Southwestern Promotes Upcoming STEM Wars

Pictured are Maureen Donahue, Southwestern Central School superintendent, and Matt Langworthy, Southwestern Elementary School principal, as they watch students demonstrate the various uses of the makerspace room during a recent board of education meeting. P-J photo by Jordan W. Patterson

Inside the Southwestern Elementary School makerspace room, which is tailored to STEM education, school officials recently promoted the upcoming STEM Wars event next week.

Schools in the region often hold competitive STEM-related (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) events each year. Southwestern has often participated in those by sending its middle school and high school students to compete.

However, the Thursday event will look to engage elementary students.

Matt Langworthy, elementary school principal, and Shannon Sauder, tech integrator, presented to the Southwestern Central School Board of Education about the STEM Wars event and the makerspace itself.

“For the past two years, Mrs. Sauder and I have taken our elementary kids to the high school and middle school stem wars and we talked about how wished there was an event that our kids could participate in,” Langworthy said. “Mrs. Sauder has totally taken the lead and planned this from top to bottom. We have five other elementary schools coming and should be a great event for our kids to participate in.”

Students presented to the public and the board the many competitions including in the Feb. 6th Stem WARS event hosted at Southwestern. P-J photo by Jordan W. Patterson

Elementary students from Southwestern, Frewsburg, Bemus Point, Panama, Chautauqua Lake and Falconer will be participating in the event Thursday. Each school will bring a team of 20 students comprised of elementary students in grades 3 through 6.

The STEM Wars competitions include events such as robotics, catapult, marble run, science poster contest, T-shirt design contest, maker competition and student ambassadors.

Judges for events are representatives from Jamestown Community College, the Stark Tech Group, Cummins Engine, Chautauqua Lake Association, Chautauqua Institution and Falconer Printing. Clark Patterson Lee and Ripley Machine have sponsored the event.

Additionally, in between competitions students can participate in a makers faire with presentations and activities being made available.

Southwestern students were present at Tuesday’s board meeting to showcase each event, which included a robot maneuvering around the makerspace. Langworthy praised the inclusion of a tech integrator in the district and the work that Sauder has done.

“We’re so fortunate in our district to have a full-time tech integrator,” Langworthy said of Sauder’s position.

“I can tell you that not many schools in our area have a full-time tech integrator. Having Mrs. Sauder in the makerspace allows our kids to apply their learning and allows our teachers to increase their rigor and apply that learning in a hands-on way. We write about things. We read about things. We have a space where kids can do things and that’s such a powerful tool and we have such an amazing person in this makerspace.”


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