Student minds shine at NLPS STEAM Challenge

On Thursday, more than 320 students from Nothern Lives Public Schools met in Lac La Biche for the NLPS STEAM Challenge. Called the Science Olympics in years past, the STEAM Challenge sees students in Grades 6-9 compete in a variety of teamwork-based activities designed to test their critical thinking, problem-solving skills, and communication.

This year, the challenges included:

• Building a table from nothing but chipboard and newspaper. The table had to support a stack of science textbooks,
• Constructing a tower made from balloons.
• Assembling propeller-driven vehicle with wooden sticks.

New additions this year included artistic components and optional math equations separate to the challenges that could be solved for bonus points. “This year, we have a new name—the STEAM Challenge,” said Northern Lights’ communications director Nicole Garner. “With that new name, we wanted to make sure to focus not just on science and engineering, but on the wide spectrum of disciplines that STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Mathematics) incorporates.”

While the competing teams, of course, strove to out-STEAM their peers, the opportunity for students to learn from each other was not lost on those in attendance.

“I think it’s really cool to see what, like, the Grade 9s come up with because they know a lot more,” said a Grade 7 student from H.E. Bourgoin School in Bonnyville. “They’re really smart and can work fast.”

The STEAM Challenge also featured presentations from volunteer judges about various career paths related to the challenges performed, including civil engineering, aeronautics, and architecture.

Following the presentations, awards were handed out. The top three teams in each grade level were recognized, and an additional “most creative” winner was awarded in each grade as well. Cold Lake High School’s SAS Team took home the top prize for the Grade 9 category, and the most creative award in Grade 9 as well.

Heather Stromquist, Northern Lights’ director of community partnerships and engagement, was responsible for planning and organizing most of the event. While speaking to the students, she stressed the importance of volunteers and sponsors at the STEAM Challenge:

“We have had such awesome people volunteer to come judge, and without all of our sponsors, this event just wouldn’t be possible. They donate goods, food, time, and money to help make this happen, and we’re very grateful for them.”

The complete winners list for the 2019 STEAM Challenge is as follows:

Grade 6:
Most Creative: Aurora Middle School’s Li’l Chungas Team
Third Place: Nelson Heights School’s Team #3
Second Place: Glendon School’s Lightning Scientists
First Place: H.E. Bourgoin School

Grade 7:
Most Creative: Aurora Middle School’s Scientific Avocados
Third Place: Cold Lake Middle School’s The Big Bang
Second Place: H.E. Bourgoin School’s Team 7S
First Place: Aurora Middle School’s Looney Losers

Grade 8:
Most Creative: Nelson Heights School’s Expert Elements
Third Place: Art Smith Aviation Academy’s Rocket Scientists
Second Place: Ecole Plamondon School’s Team #8-2
First Place: H.E. Bourgoin School’s Team 8J

Grade 9:
Most Creative: Cold Lake High School’s Team SAS
Third Place: J.A. Williams High School’s Team #1
Second Place: Cold Lake High School’s Royals
First Place: Cold Lake High School’s Team SAS

JD Schmidt

JD is a reporter who works with Lakeland Connect to bring you the most reliable and honest news that he possibly can. He understands the effective combination of accurate reporting and fine journalistic writing.