Students Showcase Their STEM Skills
By Lesia Winiarskyj
Over 115 freshmen from East Hartford High School, New Britain High School, and Wilby High School in Waterbury gathered at the Connecticut Science Center in May to deliver final presentations for their year-long Cyber-Challenge projects.
Cyber-Challenge is a program in which ninth-graders answer complex questions posed by four of Connecticut’s leading STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) companies: General Electric, Northeast Utilities, Pfizer, and United Technologies Corp. Questions center on issues in healthcare and energy, and students work in teams, using multimedia technologies, to develop and showcase their findings. Final presentations are judged on content, creativity, organization, collaboration, graphics, audio, and other criteria.
Funded by a three-year, $1.2 million National Science Foundation grant administered by CBIA’s Education Foundation in collaboration with the Connecticut Science Center and EASTCONN, Cyber-Challenge prepares and motivates students for rigorous eleventh- and twelfth-grade Advanced Placement STEM courses. In 2008, before Cyber-Challenge was introduced into East Hartford, New Britain, and Wilby high schools, 512 students were enrolled in AP classes. That number nearly doubled (to 918 students) in 2012. (AP enrollment among minorities has tripled or quadrupled.)
“This was an amazing experience,” said Donna Drasch, staff development specialist at EASTCONN. “It gives me hope. It makes me feel really good about the future.”
Grand-prize winners for this year’s Cyber-Challenge were students from East Hartford High School, each of whom received a video camera. Second- and third-place winners received iPods and hi-fi in-ear headphones.
Lesia Winiarskyj is a writer and editor at CBIA. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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