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Middle School Matchup

Students Explore Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math

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Nearly 180 excited seventh and eighth grade students gathered at the Killeen Civic Center on April 18, 2017 for the first annual Texas Conference STEM Day. Students chose either a science or math track at the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math Day, hosted by the Killeen Adventist Junior Academy. Those who chose science participated in three out of the six hands-on stations: Engineering, Robotics, Chemistry, Bodies in Motion, Robotic Coding and Programming, and Ft. Hood Explosive Ordinance Disposal Unit. Those interested in math competed in the Math Challenge in teams of four to six members. The Math challenge consisted of three rounds: creativity, computation, and the tournament challenge. Each round featured math topics ranging from basic math computation to Algebra 1. The hand-on stations were made possible with the assistance of community members and seventh and eighth grade teachers within the Texas Conference. It was such an amazing experience to see students so actively engaged and excited about learning. 

Students in the Explosive Ordinance Disposal Unit were given a presentation from the Fort Hood 79th unit bomb squad before heading out into their different rotations. In Engineering, students participated in a construction design challenge where they built a creative structure with their groups that was judged on stability, motion, and cost.

Bodies in Motion was an exploration of the musculoskeletal system and how the muscles and nerves work together to create movement. The robotics station introduced students to a variety of different types of robots as well as information and tools to develop teams of their own when they return to their schools.

Inside the Chemistry lab, students were able to experiment with chemical reactions and static electricity. During Robotic Coding and Programming, also known as the Sphero Challenge, students developed codes for the motions of the robots so that they could go through an obstacle course on their own.

During the first round of the math competition, the creativity round, teams had to solve various problems in order to possess the secret code. After all five levels were completed they used their codes to unlock a cryptex for bonus points. During the second round, the computation round, students had exactly ten minutes to solve as many basic math computation problems as quickly and as accurately as possible, without a calculator. In the last round, the tournament challenge, students along with their teams, went head-to-head buzzing in to answer as many mathematical questions as they could within the two-minute rounds.

The first annual STEM Day was a huge success with students relishing the fun educational experience. Both teachers and students left the event with increased enthusiasm about a variety of ways that math and science are applied to real-life situations.

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