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Everett Students Win Computer Science Challenge

From left: Keverian students Samantha Trinh, Alexis Martinez, and Alexandra Vogel, and teacher Jillian Ells.
From left: Keverian students Samantha Trinh, Alexis Martinez, and Alexandra Vogel, and teacher Jillian Ells.

Online Industry Challenge Connects Students and STEM Professionals through Feedback from MassDOT employees on Real-World Project

Three George Keverian School students were named winners in a computer science Online Industry Challenge in association with Project Lead The Way (PLTW), Mass STEM Hub, and the One8 Foundation.
Alexis Martinez was crowned the Overall Challenge Winner, Alexandra Vogel was named an Innovation Winner, and Samantha Trinh was named a Presentation Winner as part of the challenge, which is one of the many ways in which the district is engaging students in STEM areas of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.
In the PLTWComputer Science for Innovators and Makers (CSIM) class, middle school students learn about programming both hardware and software, and how to combine them to create interactive systems. After learning to program a micro:bit, students apply that knowledge to create an LED blinking sign to share an message of their design to an audience of their choosing.
Through the Online Industry Challenge, students submitted their work to receive feedback from MassDOT- Highway Division traffic engineers across multiple districts. All students received feedback from industry professionals on their submitted engineering notebooks, with their LED sketches and flowchart to plan their sign’s behavior, code written to dictate the sign’s messaging and interaction, a visualization of the final working sign.
“As a judge, I was impressed by the student’s thought process; from planning to design to final product. Each group’s submission was unique in its own way and they all deserve high praises for their creativity,” remarked Bao Lang, MassDOT District 2 Traffic Engineer.
The engineers were impressed by the students’ work and creativity, and enjoyed providing feedback. “It’s not every day we get to step back and share our expertise with such young engineers,” reflected Margo Souza, Assistant to the Chief Engineer at MassDOT – Highway Division. “It’s exciting to be able to support their learning and inspire future career ideas.”
Student teams were selected by the engineers as winners in three categories: overall challenge winner, innovation award, and presentation award. All three winning teams came from George Keverian School in Everett.

“It is a joy to be able to see my students succeed and the degree of change that truly happens with PLTW CSIM both academically and socially,” said Keverian Technology Teacher Jillian Ells. “Mass STEM Hub providing the Online Industry Challenge allowed for my students to take their Blinking Message projects further by connecting it to a real life problem/solution.  By following the Engineering Design Process and overcoming failed attempts, my students have gained the skills to get them to succeed no matter what challenges lie before them.”

Mass STEM Hub provides schools with access to and support for the next level of STEM education, partnering with organizations such as Mass DOT to connect industry professionals with students.
“We are thrilled with our partnership with MassDOT – Highway Division, through which we were able to connect students and STEM professionals,” stated Andreina Parisi-Amon, Director of Partnerships for Mass STEM Hub. “With a couple hours of time and their expert eyes, the volunteer judges were able to provide all students with authentic feedback and real world context to the content they’re learning in class – a critical component of high-quality learning experiences. We’re excited to continue building opportunities like this for students.”
Mass STEM Hub is a program of the One8 Foundation and its mission is to provide schools with access to and support for the next level of STEM education that engages students and prepares them to succeed in a rapidly changing, high tech world. Mass STEM Hub has helped scale Project Lead The Way’s K-12 curriculum in engineering, computer science and biomedical science to over 35,000 students in Massachusetts  enabling students to learn how to take theory to practice with real world problem solving. Visit www.mass-stemhub.org

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