Nineteen students from Owensboro Innovation Academy traveled to National Harbor, Md., near Washington D.C., to compete in the National TEAMS competitions June 28-July 2.
TEAMS, which stands for Tests of Engineering Aptitude, Mathematics and Science, requires the competitors to compete in three sections of competition — digital media, presentation, engineering computation and design.
In each section, there were roughly 70 teams competing, said Stephanie Gray, OIA’s engineering facilitator.
The OIA 9/10 team placed 4th in the Nation in the Engineering Design Build portion of the competition.
Competitor Katie Gray said that the first area, digital media, was a video the team created about autonomous vehicles in Owensboro. They researched and used Google Maps to connect and direct traffic and identify traffic-related problems. Then, they created a video demonstrating how this is a good idea for Owensboro.
They presented this data to the judges during the second section nationals, which, Katie said, they spoke for four rounds, trying to convince the judges their solution is the best.
OIA student Caitlyn Belo said that during the engineering computation section, students were given 25 math problems to complete in 90 minutes that related to their autonomous car design and math. They were judged on how they built it during this section and this was the area of the competition where they finished in 4th place.
“This was our first year to go to nationals,” team member Kris Luck said. “We got a feel for what it is like. Next year it is in Nashville, and we will have prepared better.”
All team members agreed that they had to learn an extensive amount of information about Owensboro for their project like what works and what draws people to Owensboro.
When they were not competing, the students took in the attractions that draw people to Washington, D.C. Chaperone and Mrs. Gray set up visits to Mount Vernon, Arlington, several monuments, the Smithsonian and the Holocaust museum.
“Some of these students had not flown before and had not been to D.C.,” she said.
OIA students become involved in TEAMS by answering physics teacher Allen Hunley’s question, “Do you want to take the hardest test you are ever going to take?” From there, students are given scenarios and asked to solve them in self-chosen groups of eight.
TEAMS groups then compete at the regional level with two freshman teams, two sophomore teams and one junior team.
The TEAMS program is difficult for seniors to dedicate time to because most upperclassmen are taking classes at Brescia University and graduate from OIA on the engineering path.
“OIA is the place for engineering,” said OIA math teacher Anne Webb. “We qualified for first in the state.”
Gray said that what makes OIA’s engineering program unique is the two tracks students can take — going to Brescia University to complete an Associate’s Degree simultaneously, which creates a path for them when they graduate, as three students in OIA’s first graduating class did, and the other track that the community needs.
“We need people that can fix machines, which is part of Project Lead the Way engineering,” Mrs. Gray said. “Computer-integrated manufacturing and teaching kids how to program machines.”
Both pathways are available at OIA and the coursework is specifically designed for these tracks for students.
“That’s why we don’t put pressure on them to compete [their senior year],” said Mrs. Gray. “We also asked graduating seniors what OIA can do differently to prepare them for Brescia.”
Students mentioned that the math and physics had been difficult for them, so OIA teachers collaborated and created a technical math class that incorporates more physics in it and they have been students through that class.
“We will ask [these seniors] if it worked after they finish their classes at Brescia and how we can prepare them even more,” Gray said.
On Thursday, OIA students gathered to receive their check from Champion Ford for their fundraising through Drive 4 UR School. Students raised $8,000 by getting 300 people to test drive a Ford. Southern Star also helped OIA’s fundraising by purchasing the shirts they had to wear during the competitions.
“We couldn’t do this without the fundraising and the sponsors,” Mrs. Gray said. “We really do want to thank them for their support.”
The members of the fourth-place team are Caitlyn Belo, Danielle Carpenter, Evan Carpenter, David Christensen, Alex Foster, Katie Gray, Adam Lott and Kris Luck.