Tulsa students competing against others from across the nation came home with high honors after the 2019 National Technology Student Association Conference.
Working as a collective unit was the mission for five Thoreau Demonstration Academy students as they competed at the event held near Washington, D.C.
Megan Phillips, Thoreau STEM teacher, said her students competed last week in a range of categories. They prepared and delivered opening statements explaining opposing views of a current technology issue.
This year’s competition topics included 3-D printed homes in a third-world country, the U.S. Space Force, online textbooks for all classes and U.S. tariffs on imports.
It was weeks after the spring semester ended, Phillips said, before she was sure her students would be able to attend the competition because of the high cost of travel amenities, but she was able to pull together funds in time.
A team of two students — Owen Anderson, who will be a freshman in the fall, and Emma Barnes, entering eighth grade — competed and placed eighth in the nation in the category titled Challenging Technology Issues.
Anderson, 14, said he was shocked after learning he would get to compete.
“I have always had an interest in mathematics and technology for as long as I can remember,” he said. “When we heard we were able to go, it was very stunning knowing we would be able to do it.”
Barnes said she joined STEM Club to learn and experience Phillips’ teaching style. Aside from keeping them on task, Barnes said she wants to learn more about STEM because “she just makes it so inviting and welcoming.”
“You get so much out of the experience and want to learn more and more about STEM because of her,” Barnes said.
According to its website, TSA challenges students to use and improve their STEM skills in team and individual events including technology, communication, design and engineering, environmental systems, transportation and manufacturing.
Phillips said traveling to the East Coast for the competition with her students reaffirmed why she teaches today.
“I think the reason that I stay and don’t give up to make more money is exactly what I saw in Washington, D.C.,” Barnes said.
Barnes said there is no other feeling like seeing the faces of her students light up when achieving learning milestones.
Her students also competed in Career Preparations, Promotional Marketing and Technical Design categories.
Sean Kuehn, a Charles Page High School student, was also among competitors and placed sixth in the Extemporaneous Speech competition.
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