Central Academy Students Excel in State Competitions

Central Academy student academic teams recently made impressive showings in separate statewide competitions involving science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

Central Academy students participated in the TEAMS national competition sponsored by the Technology Student Association and the Computational Thinking Competition sponsored by the Iowa State University Computer Science Department.

“Academic competitions, such as TEAMS and the Computational Thinking Competition enable students to demonstrate their knowledge and skills as well as their ability to work in teams,” said Crista Carlile, Central Academy Supervisor. “Both of these competitions require students to apply their knowledge of science, math, and engineering principles to create innovative solutions for real-world problems.”

Two teams of Central Academy science students competed in the TEAMS competition and received “Best in State” in the 9th-10th grade division as well as the 11th-12th grade division for the second year in a row.

Each team was made up of eight students working on a multiple choice test and an essay test on this year’s topic Engineering Healthier Lives. The Central Academy students’ exam answers will be further evaluated to compete among the other “Best in State” teams from around the country.

Members of the 9th-10th grade team were Edel Aron, Granger Carty, Daphne Gates, Patrick Hiatt, Shirah Jacobs, Max Pilcher, Vaibhav Srikaran, and Ryan Utke. Competing on the 11th-12th grade team were Jack Bequeaith, Eric Chen, Rachel Jacobs, Matt Mackay, Megan Mansfield, Luke Sheeley, and Sarah Liu.

The TEAMS program is an annual high school competition challenging students to work collaboratively and apply their math and science knowledge in practical, creative ways to solve real everyday engineering challenges. Participating in TEAMS helps students increase their knowledge of engineering, feel more confident about participating in engineering activities and increase their ability to work with others to solve complex problems.

The one-day competitions take place at over 100 locations between February 13 and March 12, 2012 through a partnership with high school educators, universities, corporations, and professional organizations. Involving more than 10,000 students, schools and groups compete just one day during the four-week period vying for competition day, state, and national rankings and awards.

“Following the testing period, students reported that they had a great experience working with their classmates on the problems, learning how to share the workload, and comparing ideas with the goal of developing their best possible solutions to the questions posed,” said Sara Karbeling, Central Academy educator.

The Central Academy academic team of Danny Comito, Mark Gee, Jay Kakade, Luke Sheeley, and Vaibhav Srikaran also displayed their STEM knowledge by placing third in the High School Division of the first Computational Thinking Competition held on April 14, 2012 at Iowa State University, Ames. Their entry was entitled “Reaction Modeling.”

For the Computational Thinking Competition, students were required to think like a computer scientist. To do that, they needed to solve the problem posed in the context of a computational model.

Judges rated the entries in the Computational Thinking Competition on difficulty of the problem posed by the project, the cleverness of the solution to the problem, the appropriateness and cleverness of the computational model, and the ability of the students to explain how the project works.