The Edmond Sun

Education

February 3, 2014

Summit TSA members go to state

EDMOND — Students at Summit Middle School are honing their technology skills after school in TSA, the Technology Student Association in hopes of completing projects that will get them to the state finals at Rose State College and then on to Washington, D.C.

About 20 students meet two days a week after school in Jill Sullins’ Gateway to Technology classroom as she mentors and helps students build projects centered around science, technology, engineering and math problems.

Sullins said about 30 of the students have already qualified to go to state.

“They will be entering a wide variety of projects at state including their robots, bridge building, animation, speeches and digital photography to name only a few,” Sullins said.

The students are members of the Technology Student Association (TSA) and they are all interested in STEM courses, science, technology, engineering and math. They are presently learning about robots and using a VEX robot platform to build their robot.

“When we started out at the first of the year I had about 60 students coming in two days a week to work,” said Sullins. Now that we are studying robots, the number has dwindled to about 30 students with 20 of them showing up on any given Tuesday or Thursday.”

Sullins said robots are more difficult to build than some of the other projects and that is why the numbers have dropped off at this time.

A robot costs about $100 to build, Sullins said, and as part of the Career Technology program she is under, she has monies provided for her area as well as the opportunity to apply for grants.

“In the past four years I have received three grants totaling $22,500,” Sullins said. “I use the funds to provide tools and machinery for the students to use as well as to buy parts for the robots the students build. Some of the parts can be salvaged and saved for the next robot build, but we do have to replace parts also.”

Two teams were working on their robots Thursday after school along with other students working on different projects. Seventh-grader Sunny Jones put her efforts into working on a STEM animation project while learning to make a complicated computer program.

Sixth-grader Grant Benson had his balsa wood bridge he built which got him a place at the state finals held in Midwest City.  

“I’ve always liked to build things out of Legos and I have made race cars. My brother had to make a catapult last year and I thought it sounded cool so I made some too.”

He entered one of his catapults at a workshop sponsored by Francis Tuttle.

“It was not a TSA contest, but it was fun because I didn’t have to get up early or dress up and you get out of school for the day,” Grant said.

When the students are representing the school at a TSA contest they wear uniforms including matching royal blue shirts, black pants and black shoes.

“I created a catapult solely powered by a mouse trap and I used the most basic design and won second place,” Grant said. “I used logic and a plastic spoon to launch ping pong balls at a basket. That day I learned the power of a mouse trap.”

When building a bridge, Grant said he learned about trusses and then he just used logic to build his first bridge. Grant’s father is an engineer so maybe some of the logic he talks about using comes naturally.

Grant will be going to the state finals at Rose State College and if he wins first place at state he will be eligible to go to nationals.

“The first time I built a bridge I decided to use vertical cross beams and I built the first model that popped in my head,” Grant said.

That model earned him a first at a contest making it possible for him to compete at the state contest.

“I have already been thinking about how I am going to build my bridge at state,” Grant said. “I plan to use thicker parts and I am going to make it smaller than I did the second bridge I made.

“You get a piece of balsa wood 20 feet long and then you have to cut each piece the length you want it. My friend Arman Riaz and I will be working together.”

Sullins has been at Summit for the past 4 1/2 years and she has taken students to nationals for the past three years.

“They put in so much time before and after school and it is fun to watch them build their projects and see the satisfaction they get out of completing them,” Sullins said.

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