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Motivating Students Through More Activities

Jeannine Huenemann


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Logan High students win drone competition.
Logan High students win drone competition.
Credit LHS
Chelsea Chee from AISES brought robot kits to Uintah High.
Chelsea Chee from AISES brought robot kits to Uintah High.
Credit URHS

These past few months were busy ones in the USU STARS! programs across the state. Our site coordinators have shared over 20 success stories since the first of the year. These stories show the creative range of ideas used to engage students during and after school. As Chris Jensen, site coordinator from Manti High School said, “the real success wasn't necessarily what we did, but the motivation that it gave some of the students that we work with.” We hope that these examples will motivate and encourage you to try new things in your schools to reach different students.

Chris at Manti High School (grants 1 & 2)

Innovation Week inspires creativity in students. This month, our school district hosted an Innovation Week. Dozens of students came up with ideas and projects. Moving away from the typical science fair format, Innovation Week inspired students who were less likely to be engaged, and they did a fantastic job. One student printed a 3D version of a car that she had designed in her CAD class. Another student made a complete set of “The Settlers of Catan” game in 3D. Still another student brought a fictional hero to life, creating a functional model of a web-slinging device, like the one Spider Man uses. The list of creative inventions goes on and on, but the real success wasn't necessarily what we did, but the motivation that it gave some of the students that we work with to create projects inspired by their interests and imagination.

Kameron at Uintah River High School (grant 2)

Coding robots to compete against classmates. Chelsea Chee from American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES) in Albuquerque, NM brought Sphero educational kits to Uintah River High School. Fifteen Sphero robots with coordinating tablets were used to teach students how to code. Students programmed and raced their robots against their peers over two days in their science classes. With each race, they adjusted the code, allowing their robots to run ladders more efficiently and win competitions against their classmates.

Jessica at Logan High School (grant 2)

LHS aviation club wins first place in drone competition. ROAV (remotely operated aerial vehicle) Quadcopter Challenge is an engineering activity that engages students by having them design, build, program, and fly drones through an obstacle course. During the competition, students use math and science problem-solving as they compete in autonomous and computational skill challenges. USU STARS! GEAR UP student Brady Henderson, and Braden Shaffer, at Logan High School, placed first in the all-around competition at George Washington High School in Ogden on Feb 9. Club Advisor Keven Kendall, a teacher from Logan High School, coached the team. He also directs annual tournaments in Logan for elementary through high school and college students. Information is available online for the ROAV Quadcopter Challenge.

Heather at North Sanpete High School (grant 2)

Partnering with CTE teachers to bring STEM to students. GEAR UP students teamed up with the NSMS Career and Technical Education (CTE) teachers hosting a school-sponsored STEM event for K-8th graders on Jan 26. Nearly 150 students learned about coding, virtual reality, science, math, engineering, food science, and family/consumer science from their older peers. Students were divided into groups by grade and were able to participate in hands-on activities using VR goggles, Merge cubes, iExplore books, Ozobots, Spherobots, and working with batteries and magnets, as well as making ice cream, and straw rockets.