Charles Sumner Math & Science Community Academy team wins engineering competition

Charles Sumner Math & Science Community Academy team wins engineering competition

When they heard the name of their school, the 7th grade pupils jumped from their seats.

“First place, with 97.6 points,” said Lorenzo Craig of Truman College, “first place goes to Sumner!”

The students – all dressed in red, the school color of the Charles Sumner Math & Science Community Academy – cheered, hugged and congratulated each other.

Those 23 students, along with students from eight other schools on the south and west sides, had taken a 10-week course organized by the SYNCERE project. The aim of the program is to expose underrepresented children to careers in STEM: science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Each week, students learned about engineering aspects, such as programming and design. They also worked with instructors to complete a group project, which required them to have an idea for a product to make homes more environmentally friendly.

The final leg of the competition was on Wednesday and Thursday. Student teams from the nine schools had to build a battery-powered robot in an hour and were assessed on how well their robots completed a task. The awards ceremony took place on Friday at Amelia Earhart School, 1710 E. 93rd St.

Charles Sumner Math & Science Community Academy 7th grade students complete the ENpowered Games robot challenge in a classroom on Sumner Thursday. The team finished first in the class competition on Friday.

Sumner students scored the highest of all participating classes, with points awarded for their group project, robotic challenge, quiz, and their engineering notebooks.

“They’re so excited and so proud of themselves,” Laurie Stalheim, a math and science teacher at Sumner. Her students started the program in February.

“I’m not a crybaby, it takes a lot to make me cry,” added Stalheim. “But today I’m in tears.”

Stalheim said students who aren’t always very involved in the school also got animated during the SYNCERE project, which gave them a chance to shine and boosted their confidence.

His students worked together in six groups to come up with creative ideas for their environmentally friendly products, Stalheim said.

One team has designed a color sensor to detect daylight, so when natural light is present, the lights go out, “forcing you to use natural light and not just turn the lights on even if you don’t really need it”, Stalheim said.

The class will receive a trophy and each student will receive a certificate and an Uber Eats gift card.

SYNCERE project leaders pose with students from Amelia Earhart School at the ENpowered Games Awards Ceremony hosted in Earhart on Friday, May 6, 2022. Earhart finished third.

SYNCERE project leaders, with students from Amelia Earhart School, at the awards ceremony on Friday. Earhart finished third.

Mariana Azuela Elementary finished second in the class competition and Earhart finished third.

The 10 groups with the most points were also awarded, with Azuela’s Group 3 – Adam Moreno, Lexi Evariz, Axel Olivia and Leonardo Sanchez – taking first place.

Jason Coleman, mechanical engineer and co-founder and executive director of Project SYNCERE, told students he would never have gotten into STEM if it weren’t for similar programs he was involved in after school.

He urged students to stay involved in those areas.

“Honestly, it’s up to all of you to commit now, to be great leaders later,” Coleman said. “It’s about taking advantage of the opportunities that are presented to you.”

Charles Sumner Math & Science Community Academy 7th grade completes the ENpowered Games robot challenge in a classroom on Sumner Thursday.  The team finished first in the class competition on Friday.

Charles Sumner Math & Science Community Academy 7th grade students complete the ENpowered Games robot challenge in a classroom on Sumner Thursday. The team finished first in the class competition on Friday.

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