After the awards ceremony on Sunday, we are thrilled to announce the specific awards and honors that SLI students received. Three SLI projects (one from each grade level) placed 1st in the Physical Science & Engineering Category and the two middle school projects received nominations to compete in Broadcom MASTERS (an elite middle school science competition). Two more SLI projects placed 2nd in the same Physical Science & Engineering Category. And six projects received honorable mention. The Association for Computing Machinery gave a 2nd place student award and an honorable mention student award to two SLI projects. An 8th grade project received a certificate of achievement from the Society of Women Engineers. And one 9th grade project, in addition to winning an honorable mention, received the Bruce Kawanami Engineering Award and a BBC Microbit Development Kit from TechLab Education. Overall, 18 awards and honors were given to 14 SLI projects. Amazing work, award winners!
Synopsys is a prestigious local science fair that requires rigorous project-based research from its participants. Its submission guidelines demand a clearly defined question or problem; accurate testing and analysis; quantifiable, measurable results; and a clear definition of criteria for success or outcome. This year, 41 SLI sciences projects were accepted to the fair; and a total of 69 students worked on these projects and presented them in March to approximately 500 category and special award judges, including over 60 industry professionals.
This year 14 SLI projects (22 students) were selected to receive awards. These projects include a heat-sensing rescue robot, an active cuff for the treatment of edema in the lower extremities, and several projects that aim to help the blind with navigating, sensing what is ahead of them, or cleaning up after their service dogs.
It has been another year of fantastic projects and presentations. Congratulations to all! And best of luck to the projects that are continuing on to Broadcom MASTERS!
Six SLI Teams Receive Honorable Mention for their ExploraVision Projects
We are thrilled to announce that six SLI teams received Honorable Mention for their ExploraVision research projects. ExploraVision is a nationwide competition centered around the history and future of technology. Competing teams select a specific current technology and research its origin, its modern day purpose, and exactly how it works. “The students must then project into the future what that technology could be like 20 years from now and determine what scientific breakthroughs need to occur to make it a reality” (www.exploravision.org) including the particular benefits and consequences of the new technology.
As a part of the project, teams designed websites to showcase their research. Please find below the website designs for the SLI projects that received honorable mentions. Due to student privacy concerns, some websites were not able to be published online; below are images of the websites for grades 7 and 8, and active links for grade 9.
After three months dedicated to the recruitment process, we at the 49ers STEM Leadership Institute (SLI) are excited to announce that all admission decisions for the incoming class of 2023 have been finalized. From the written applications to the student interviews to the SLI-hosted information sessions, we were amazed by the talent and passion of this year’s applicants. While we wish that we could accept everybody into the program, there are only a certain number of slots in each grade level cohort and admission is competitive; this year we had to turn away more than half of the applicants.
The incoming class will be coming from four different schools throughout the district to attend the program. As an introduction to SLI, they will be invited to various welcome events before the end of the year; and then they will officially start the program in July with SLI’s summer session. We are thrilled to welcome them to the program and excited to see everything they will accomplish over the next six years.
Students start working on Maker Faire 2017 projects
Maker Faireisn’t happing for a few months, but that doesn’t mean SLI students aren’t hard at work brainstorming and creating in anticipation. A celebration of the Maker Movement, Maker Faire is a unique festival that blends STEM fields, art, creativity, and problem solving. This year SLI is sending several teams from each grade to showcase creations specifically designed for the faire. Each grade was given a theme to springboard their creativity.
For 7th grade, the theme is “Growth Mindset In, Stress Out.” One team is responding by working on rose-colored lenses, designed to block blue-light emission from screens. Another team has been inspired to create a “music cube” based on ideas from music therapy.
The 8th graders have been given the theme “Exploration,” and students are proposing a diverse set of ideas, including a 3D printed caterpillar that can be programmed, a Maker Faire scavenger hunt app, and a problem-solving backpack cover.
The 9th grade theme is “Philanthropic Fabrication,” inspiring community-oriented, altruistic projects from students. Details to come!
San Jose Tech Museum’s Tech Challenge 2017 kicks off!
It’s that time of year again! SLI students from each grade will be participating in the 2017 Tech Challenge at The San Jose Tech Museum. Students have been given the following goal: to construct a device to help explorers cross two ravines in an ice field. According to the 2017 official rules, “Explorers must cross each ravine, bringing their entire device across for future use. Self-powered aerial solutions such as planes, drones, lighter-than-air vehicles or helicopters are prohibited.”
In the last couple weeks, SLI’s students have been preparing for the challenge by brushing up on their knowledge of simple machines and physics concepts. This material will serve as a stepping-stone toward creating simple, elegant solutions and prototypes for their final devices. We are looking forward to seeing what students come up with!
The Tech Challenge competition and showcase takes place in April at the San Jose Tech Museum.
Presented by the Santa Clara Valley Science & Engineering Faire Association
We are proud to announce that several SLI groups from each grade have been accepted to Synopsys Championshipthis year.
Synopsys is a prestigious local science fair that calls for rigorous project-based research from its participants. Its guidelines require a clearly defined question or problem; accurate testing and analysis; quantifiable, measurable results; and a clear definition of criteria for success or outcome.
SLI’s students are working on a wide variety of projects. In 7th grade, proposals included a DIY window-cleaning robot, a “procrastination app” to help students focus on homework, and UV activated hand sanitizer. One 8th grade group is repurposing facial recognition software to help Alzheimer’s patients distinguish loved ones from strangers. Another group is working on a filter to decrease the proliferation of high biomass algae. SLI’s high school freshman class has several proposals including an easily adjustable ramp for the disabled, a heat-sensing rescue robot, and a “Watchdog” app that uses algorithms, FitBit technology, and Android devices to monitor a user’s biometrics and alert loved ones.
The Synopsys Championship showcase will be taking place in March in San Jose. It is always a treat to attend, getting the chance to admire the results of SLI students and to be inspired by the remarkable research of all the participants.
Competing teams select a specific current technology and research all aspects of its origin and its modern day purpose and how exactly it works. “The students must then project into the future what that technology could be like 20 years from now and determine what scientific breakthroughs need to occur to make it a reality” (www.exploravision.org) including the particular benefits and consequences of the new technology.
As a part of the project, teams designed websites to showcase their research. Due to student privacy concerns, some websites were not able to be published online; please see below images for some of the web designs from grades 7 and 8 and links to some live websites for grade 9.
This 7th grade team conjectured ways nanobots could be used to treat Leukemia in the future.
A Satellite-Collecting Satellite
This 8th grade team designed a satellite, created to remove debris and nonfunctioning technology from orbit.
Another 8th grade team looked at high-speed train technology and ways to potentially improve it.
Focus on Me
This 9th grade team imagined the future of glasses and how self-focusing lenses might help people without access to optometrist services.
For the first time this year, students had the chance to participate in the Global Math Challenge (GMC). Sixty students volunteered to participate. As the GMC website says, “Looking at math as a sport that everyone can take part in, we decided to create a worldwide math contest – Global Math Challenge [which includes] brain-teasers that stimulate your curiosity and logical thinking [and] beautifully illustrated questions that are easy for anybody to follow.” SLI students took the test online at home. It consisted of ten difficult questions, and students were given forty minutes to complete the test. Scoring was not only based on the answers, but also on the time spent on each question.
We are excited to announce that two 9th graders and one 8th grader placed in the bronze category, and one 8th grader placed silver, ranking 1st in the USA and 36th in the world. Congratulations!
This year middle school students participated in the nationwide initiative, Hour of Code™. As Code.org describes it, “The Hour of Code started as a one-hour introduction to computer science, designed to demystify “code”, to show that anybody can learn the basics, and to broaden participation in the field of computer science. It has since become a worldwide effort to celebrate computer science, starting with 1-hour coding activities but expanding to all sorts of community efforts.”
SLI students participated by spending an hour on Wednesday designing an original device to place a Ping-Pong ball in an upright cup at the center of a 6-foot circle; and additionally spending an hour learning about computational thinking.
Hour of Code™ traditionally takes place during “Computer Science Education Week,” which usually centers around the birthday of computing innovator Admiral Grace Murray Hopper (December 9th).
It’s that time of year again! For the third year in a row, SLI’s middle school students are teaming up to compete in FIRST LEGO League (FLL). Each team designs and programs a robot to complete challenges that change every year. This year’s competition theme is “Animal Allies,” focusing on endangered species and wildlife preservation. Not only will the robotic challenges center around that theme; but teams are required to research and present solutions to real world problems that relate to the theme.
This year, the SLI team titled “King of the Ocean” decided to design and create a website to present their research about the endangered Delta Smelt of Sacramento. They’ve prototyped a color sensor for detecting plankton levels in the smelt’s living environment. Check out their findings on their website at atkase.com/FLLTeam12
While the middle school students are focusing on FLL, SLI’s high school students will be participating in FIRST® Tech Challenge (FTC). This year’s competition, titled “Velocity Vortex,” is played like a game, with different achievements awarding teams different points. Most of the goals involve robots moving a ball (sometimes large, sometimes small) into a particular area of the arena. Its complicated rules result in constantly changing game conditions, requiring creative problem-solving and quick decision-making from participants. For more information, check out FTC’s 2016/17 challenge website.
Update: We are pleased to announce that the following awards and honors have been won by our FLL and FTC teams in the local qualifying tournaments.
At the high-school FTC competitions, three teams were invited to participate in the semi-final rounds of the qualifying tournaments and one team was awarded for their advancement to the championship round of the qualifying tournaments.
At the middle-school FLL tournaments, Project Awards were given to two SLI teams, “The Albino Alligators” and “Animal Allegiance.” The Judges’ Award was given to the SLI team “Audacious Turtle 51”. And the SLI team “King of the Ocean” was nominated for the Global Innovation Award and they will be presenting their research at a judged showcase in 2017. In addition, the teams “Audacious Turtle 51” and “Animal Allegiance” are advancing to the district/regional championships in early 2017!
Welcome back! While the school year has not yet officially started, our students are back in the labs, exploring, prototyping, experimenting, and learning. Over the next three weeks, students will do team-building activities, familiarize themselves with the design thinking cycle, study circuits and computer science, and begin introductions to science and math classes. All program teachers and many program administrators will be facilitating and teaching all three weeks, familiarizing themselves with the students and their work.
This year marks the opening of our brand-new Fab Foundation-certified lab at Santa Clara High School, which features many new and exciting tools, such as a CNC tool (ShopBot), a compact mill, a band saw, a sewing and embroidery machine, and a molding and casting station; and all this is in addition to new laser cutters, a vinyl cutter, and 3-D printers. The summer will also be spent familiarizing students with the new equipment and encouraging its application to projects.
It’s exciting to see all the students back in school and tackling new challenges and building on their experience from the year before. Here’s to the upcoming year and the challenges, discoveries, and knowledge it will bring!
Last weekend was Tech Challenge at the San Jose Tech Museum, and we had eleven teams compete! This year’s challenge was particularly tricky. The students were challenged to create a glider that would fly over a 3½-foot mountain range, clear a 6-foot-tall pylon, and then land on a target approximately 3 feet in diameter. The glider could be mechanically launched, but not at an angle; and the entire course was only 29 feet in length.
Observers were on the edge of their seats as many gliders ran into the mountain range or pylon. Ones that got past both obstacles automatically merited an “ooh” or “aah.” And the gliders that actually landed close to the target elicited rounds of cheers and applause.
After the middle school competition, the Tech Museum held a corresponding awards ceremony. We are excited to announce that the 49ers STEM Leadership Institute’s team The Fighter Gliders brought home the Judges Choice Award for Best Research.
We will be holding our own internal awards ceremony to honor all the 49ers STEM Leadership Institute teams and to celebrate the hard work that they put in over the last several months.
Who doesn’t love a good old science fair? The Synopsys sponsored science fair is an elite event that is selective about its participants and rigorously enforces student diligence, safety, and intricate paperwork. In doing so, the Synopsys Science Fair gives its participants a real glimpse into what being an actual researcher requires. The 49ers STEM Leadership Institute had about twenty groups participate this year, and we are thrilled to announce that many of our students won awards in a variety of categories. One of our 7th grade students even took home first prize in her category for running a clinical study regarding memory, mood, and anxiety in middle school students, and the grand prize overall for her grade level. She and her project will be continuing on to the State Science Fair in Los Angeles in May.
Update: Our student who attended the State Science Fair in Los Angeles won Honorable Mention for her study in cognitive science. Congratulations!
This year we had nine teams compete in First Lego League, and the competition theme was “Trash Trek”. Using Lego Kits, teams built robots specifically designed to complete various challenges, such as retrieving and delivering specific items and sorting debris. In addition, they were tasked with creating a team project around the theme of trash. We’re proud to say that multiple teams won awards. Two teams won Core Value Awards. One team won a Project Award. And one team won a Champion’s Award. Additionally, two teams qualified for the regional competition. Congratulations to all!
As an organization, we also hosted one of the local qualifying tournaments at Santa Clara High School, where we will be launching the high school portion of our program next year. It was a crazy but fun-filled day and we can’t wait to do it again next year!
Update: While neither of our two teams advanced beyond the regional competition, they had a wonderful time showcasing their Lego robots as well as their project ideas, and were inspired by the multitude of other teams from our region who also competed at the event!