Area Students Attend STEM Wars At JCC

Students gather Thursday on JCC basketball court to compete in different STEM Wars challenges. P-J photos by Michael Zabrodsky

It was a tech student’s dream Thursday at the STEM Wars.

Students from area schools brought their projects to compete and display at the Science Technology Engineering and Math event hosted by Dream It Do It of Western New York, and held at the Physical Education Complex at Jamestown Community College.

“We’re excited to be here. This is an opportunity to get kids together from throughout Chautauqua County, and a couple districts from Cattaraugus County. These kids come here and compete with projects that they made at their home schools –STEM projects. … There’s a lot of activity going on here, and a great opportunity for these kids to showcase their talents, and skills,” said Executive Director of Manufacturers Association of the Southern Tier, and President/CEO of Dream It Do It of Western New York, Todd Tranum.

Tranum went on to say that MAST’s interest in the event is from a manufacturing perspective. When State University of New York Chancellor John King, visited JCC on March 7, he toured the Manufacturing Technology Institute, and sat in on a couple of classes.

During his stop, King stressed that it is important that students have multiple access points to the skills that they will need in the workforce. He said that non-credit programs, certificate programs as well as degree programs through the state’s community colleges can help open up economic opportunities for people. He added that throughout the United States there is a renaissance in manufacturing.

CO2 cars wait for the green light on the race track.

“In New York (state) we are growing in advanced manufacturing and we have an opportunity to prepare folks for great jobs,” he said.

The training starts in middle and high school where students can get a feel for what manufacturing technology is about. Tranum noted that the students who participated in the event are seen as future workforce members. “This is an opportunity for us to get to know them,” Tranum said.

Coupled with the competition, several tech employers were also there to speak to students about careers and opportunities in tech field.

According to the Dream It Do It website, didiwny, “This is a completely hands-on event in support of Science Technology Engineering and Math (STEM), with particular emphasis on how STEM relates to Manufacturing.”

Melissa Himes, Dream It Do It Director, said about 30 different school districts including Southwestern Central School, Jamestown Public Schools, Falconer Central Schools, Westfield Central Schools. Brocton, Forestville, Cassadaga Central Schools, Salamanca, Pine Valley Central Schools, Chautauqua Lake Central School, and Panama had students competing at the event.

Tristan Brandow, seventh-grade tech student at Persell Middle School waits to race his CO2 car. P-J photo by Michael Zabrodsky

Persell Middle School Technology teacher Timothy Whitacre took some of his students to compete in the CO2 car races.

“It’s a car that they design out of block of wood to incorporate aerodynamics, weight, and drag. The goal is to build the fastest car with the limitations (parameters) the teachers provided to the students. There are certain requirements,” Whitacre said.

The website also noted that students design, build, and race CO2 cars. Students will place in the event purely on race results. A maximum of 7 cars per school. All cars will race for time. Depending on number of entries the winner will determined by fastest time from first race.

Here are the rules:

¯ Car designs must meet these metric TSA specifications: length, height, eye spacing, and wheelbase.

Coupled with the competition, several tech employers were also there to speak to students about careers and opportunities in tech field.

¯ Wood blanks used for cars must be cut from a Basswood or standard 2 inches by 4 inches. Cars will be organized into separate races. (Balsa wood is not permitted.)

¯ All cars must be painted. (Car must be dry prior to inspection)

¯ The judges will inspect and impound all cars at the competition.

¯ If a wheel falls off the car, it will be disqualified.

¯ Standard 8 gram Pitsco CO2 cartridges will be supplied for races.

Tristan Brandow, a seventh-grade student in Whitacre’s class was waiting for his car to race on the track.

“Most of the time, I help keep people on task,” Brandow said.

He said that during class he likes to show Whitacre how responsible is by helping clean up any materials and debris left by other students.

Other STEM events were bridge design, CAD Design, cardboard furniture creations, catapult cornhole, DIDI500, dron challenge, maker event, robot golf ball challenge, roller coaster challenge and a video competition.

Miller Spegar, an 11-year-old home schooled student also was talking to other students about his nuclear fusion reactor that he built. His display presentation boards “Fusion For The Future” noted that it is a form of nuclear fusion which is the process of combining two light atomsinto one heavy atom along with some energy. The by-product of the process is Helium 4and a nuetron gamma ray or a photon. It works when a portion of mass is lost in the process. Because of the E=MC€ the mass is converted to energy and that is the desired outcome.

His presentation board also said the fusion form has no harmful by-products, a lot of energy is obtained from a small input, deuterium (heavy water, fuel) is abundant, dueterium is safe, and reactor can be shut down at any time with no risks of explosions or meltdowns.

“He’s always been interested in science, and engines and chemistry. He loves inspiring other people,” his mother Christy Spegar, who also was there, said.


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