Smithfield High wins regional engineering contest

Published 6:18 pm Wednesday, December 28, 2022

Smithfield High School won first place in the Virginia, Modeling, Analysis, and Simulation Center (VMASC) STEM and Student Engagement Regional K-12 Engineering Design Challenge in Suffolk.

The challenge, which took place on STEM Day on Nov. 8, asked participating schools to build a prototype of an arcade or carnival game made with household or recyclable materials. Over 4,000 students from five school divisions in Hampton Roads participated in this year’s competition.

“Arcade games are perfect to apply the engineering design process, physics, computational thinking, science and logic while having fun,” said Jessica Johnson, director for STEM and Student Engagement and Research assistant professor for Old Dominion University.

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Smithfield High received $1,000 for winning first place. Oakland Elementary School in Suffolk won second place and will receive $500, and Southside S.T.E.M. Academy at Campostella with Norfolk Public Schools will receive $250 as the third-place winner.

“We had a very diverse team with unique personalities,” said Heather Greer, engineering teacher at Smithfield High School. “As an educator, it was thrilling to watch the team leverage each other’s strengths and bring a crazy, ambitious idea to life that they had collectively agreed upon. They grew into a cohesive group that was able to effectively plan, troubleshoot and solve problems as they built their pinball machine.”

The activities and criteria in the Challenge are aligned to incorporate Virginia Department of Education STEM careers and STEM literacy. Each team that participated received a challenge packet with background information, rules, criteria and STEM career and literacy connections. “Several schools from across Hampton Roads participated in the STEM Day Challenge where students used digital fabrication equipment, software and technologies to develop their project prototypes, which is very similar to technology and methodologies utilized here at VMASC in multidisciplinary research,” said Johnson. “Great job to everyone!”