SMS Tech Teams Shine in National Competition
- School: Sarasota Middle School
- Award: National Technology Student Association
Two teams of technology students from Sarasota Middle School took second and third place in their categories at the National Technology Student Association Conference June 21-25 in Nashville. More than 5,000 students from middle schools and high schools from 48 states qualified for the national competition by winning state contests.
TSA is a national, nonprofit organization of more than 180,000 middle and high school students in 2,700 school chapters who have a strong interest in technology. Members apply and integrate science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) concepts through co-curricular activities, competitive events and related programs. The national competition involves contests in more than 60 categories.
The SMS team of Michael Moran and Tyler Maxwell finished second in the nation in the Techno Talk category. In that contest, two students from one school were teamed randomly with two students from another school to form one four-person team. Their challenge was to have one pair build a structure out of sight of their partner team then instruct the partner team how to replicate the structure communicating only with text messages.
Moran and Maxwell also finished in the top 10 for Problem Solving. This year the challenge was to build a catapult from common materials such as duct tape, string, construction paper, folders, index cards, popsicle sticks and soda straws.
A team comprised of Brooklynn Wilhelm, Laura Winstead, and Tiana Goodwin finished third in the nation for Website Design. That category required contestants to design, build and launch a website that required extensive research into a technology-related subject. The SMS team developed a website exploring the history of the U.S. space program called www.universetodiscover.com
In addition to building the website, team members were interviewed about their knowledge of Internet and web history, web design and research about cutting-edge advances in technology.
A team that included Gianluca Marra and Hunter Jacob as well as Moran, Maxwell, Wilhelm, Winstead and Goodwin finished 29th against 80 other middle school and high school teams in a robotics competition. For that challenge, the team had to build, program and operate robots that could pick up and stack objects in a timed competition.
Jacob qualified for the national contest by finishing in the top 10 in Florida in the Career Investigation and Prepared Speech categories. Marra qualified by placing in the top 10 in the Technical Writing category at the state level.
TSA advisor and SMS Career and Technical Education teacher James Van Fleet said he is very proud of the success of his students at the national level. “Our students do TSA as an extra-curricular activity before and after school,” he said. “This year they spent over 400 hours in preparation for the state and national competitions. I am extremely proud of the effort and results.”
Van Fleet thanked parents, school administrators and other contributors for helping students attend the national convention and the Manatee County School District for allowing SMS students to ride the buses with Manatee County teams to Nashville. He said he also was very grateful to the parents who kept the program going for six weeks while he was on medical leave.
SMS teams qualified for the TSA nationals once before in 2007. That year five students attended and two teams placed in the top 10 in their categories.