Three Farmington students involved in a STEM-centered organization recently placed in the top three in two events at the organization’s state championship at Missouri S&T in Rolla.
Courtney English and Chloe Majeske placed third in the Missouri State Technology Student Association (TSA) Championship in the Children Stories event, while English and Hannah Boeckmann placed third in the Structural Engineering Event. The championship was held from April 22-24 in Rolla.
Majeske, who was voted state TSA treasurer for next year, said TSA is an organization for students to explore STEM-related topics, whether or not they are interested in entering a STEM career field.
“We’re not related to airport security in any way,” she joked. “It’s a nationwide organization for students who are both interested or not interested in STEM careers. Some of the events are non-STEM-related, like music and photography events.”
In addition to providing educational and scholarship opportunities, TSA allows students to connect with one another and build friendships across the state and country.
“You can meet various people and explore different fields in engineering and STEM in general,” Boeckmann said. “There are also scholarship opportunities—so with me being a senior, that’s a big reason I got involved.”
English said the organization is good for students like her, who haven’t nailed down precisely what career they’d like to go into after graduation.
“I don’t really know exactly what I want to do yet,” English said. “I figured since I have a little interest in this, if I went to the competition I’d find more interest. It was a good experience. Leadership roles were really enforced and we learned a lot, plus making connections while we were there.”
For their Structural Engineering event, Boeckmann and English were tasked with constructing a bridge crane of balsa wood, which was weight-tested during the competition.
“We basically just had to the get the measurements within their critera,” Boeckmann said. “We used balsa wood and wood glue—that’s all we were allowed to use. Then they put it up on two blocks and pushed eight down on it in the middle until it snapped.”
English said the criteria for the project allowed them only to use balsa pieces that measured 1/8-inch squared and 1/8-inch by 1/4-inch, and only in specific pieces of the structure.
For English and Majeske’s Children Stories event, STEM principles were incorporated into the production of a children’s book.
“We basically had to come up with a story, illustrate it and then find a way to add an electronically-enhanced feature in the book,” English said.
“For that, we took a device and programmed it for two LED lights in the book,” Majeske said. “That was the electronically-enhanced part of it.”
English, Majeske and Boeckmann hope to attend the TSA national conference in Atlanta, Georgia next month, having placed at the state level. In order to do so, the three will have to raise about $3,000 to cover registration, travel and hotel costs.
They have plans for several fundraisers, including a booth at Country Days, possible car washes and barbecues and additional fundraisers within the district. The three are also trying to raise awareness of the organization, with hopes of encouraging middle schoolers to get involved as they get older.
Engineering Instructor and TSA Advisor Eric Shelton said TSA has been around for years at Farmington, with some outstanding success at state and national competitions.
“Farmington TSA has been involved in state and national competitions for about a decade now,” he said. “We’ve gone to several national competitions. We’ve had one national winner who took third place in digital music production. It’s a pretty big event with probably close to 5,000 students. The competition is pretty tough in any event, so they’re going to have some pretty stiff competition.”
To donate toward Boeckmann, English and Majaske’s attendance at the national conference next month, contact Shelton at firstname.lastname@example.org.