Texas A&M Student Competition Tackles Issues in K-12 STEM Ed

Texas A&M University (TAMU) recently held Aggies Invent, a 48-hour initiative set to go nation-wide that, this year, asked student participants to come up with solutions to challenges in K-12 STEM education.

Sixty students, divided into six teams, participated in the event and tackled problems such as student engagement, minority and gender gaps, teacher preparation and classroom digitization with the aid of university and industry mentors and the resources of the school's 20,000-square-foot rapid prototyping lab.

"I had an idea to hold an Aggies Invent centered around education and we worked with the College of Education and our industry sponsors to come up with problem statements for our students," said James Wilson, Engineering Innovation Center facility manager, in a prepared statement. "We have students designing apps for teachers and children with special needs, hardware to monitor behavior and stress levels of children, modular furniture to accommodate the needs of a modern classroom and virtual college tours for high school students."

The winning team's project was "Veggie Roll," a device designed to teach agricultural principals to students in developing countries.

"We built a portable seed-plant assisting device that could help conduct training sessions on how to properly space and plant seeds and plugs in the field," said Carlos Rios, mechanical engineering sophomore, in a news release.

The team won $1,000, promises of grant money and access to the Engineering Innovation Center to further develop the project.

This year's event also saw an increase in women participating, making up half of all students taking part for the first time in the events history.

The evet's leadership is looking to expand the initiative beyond the TAMU campus.

"Rodney Boehm, director of Aggies Invent, is aiming to take this event to schools and community colleges nationally," Wilson said in a prepared statement. "We will have an event themed around first responders in April which will be our biggest ever. We will also have a super-Aggies Invent in the summer wherein winners from previous events will get together for a bigger challenge."

About the Author

Joshua Bolkan is contributing editor for Campus Technology, THE Journal and STEAM Universe. He can be reached at [email protected].