Students Showcase Creativity During Summer Scholars STEM Program

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CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA (NEWSPLEX) -- Robots, cardboard chairs, and other feats of engineering were on display Tuesday, during the final week of the Summer Scholars STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) Program.

For five weeks, 20 Albemarle High School students put on their thinking caps, challenging themselves to build, problem solve, and create. The program, held at the University of Virginia, was put on by Albermarle High School and the Center for Diversity in Engineering

Twelfth-grade student Kesley Chavers has dreams of becoming a computer scientist. For two weeks, she designed software for the LEGO Mindstorm robot.

"Instead of using standard turn, move forward, turn, move forward, I had to do this whole program and put in lots of math calculations in order for the program to do what I want it do to exactly," Chavers said.

On Tuesday, students worked to build a chair that could hold the weight of an average adult, using only cardboard and tape. Although Clifford Ayers Brown's chair collapsed, the seventh grader said he enjoyed the problem solving aspect of the STEM program.

"The tape wouldn't stay," said Ayers Brown. "We kept using more and more tape, and taking tape away from places that didn't need them, and adding to the places that did."

Students weren't just honing their math and science skills.

The program also gave them to chance to perfect some poetic prose during the English component. Temi Akinola, a rising senior at Albemarle High School, wrote about how she came to learn to love her unique name.

"Our teacher really wants us to look at ourselves. So a lot of it is introspective, so we're writing about things that we like, things that we've learned, and our experiences," Akinola said.

Studies show almost all of the 30 fastest-growing occupations in the next decade will require at least some background in STEM. Chavers says the program has opened her eyes to new opportunities.

"Engineering is not just building buildings. It's got so many more uses. Robotics uses a lot of computer science, and opens up a lot of career opportunities, " Chavers said,

It took rising senior Mylz Speed seven weeks to build his robot, which he calls a work of art. The future scientist hopes to put his engineering skills to good use.

He said, "When I was a child, I wanted to build roller coasters. This isn't a roller coaster yet, but this is the building blocks."

The STEM Summer Scholars Program was taught by faculty at Albemarle High School and UVa engineering alumni.

For more information on the program, you can call Pearl Early at Albemarle High School, 434-975-9300, ext. 60612.

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