By LINDA DILLS and BETTE FITZGERALD
CHEROKEE MIDDLE SCHOOL
The spring Middle School STAC (Student Technology Advisory Council Conference) was held last month at Cherokee Central Schools. There were 11 schools in attendance with a total of 131 students. In the Charles George Memorial Arena, teams of four students designed and programmed their robots to earn point at a variety of challenges.
That morning was the first time the students saw the challenges, forcing them to do some creative building and problem solving.
Cherokee Middle took first place in the robotics competition followed by Hiwassee Dam Team 1 and Murphy Team 1. Hayesville Middle School STAC won the School or Community Service competition, and Rachel Reid (Murphy Middle) won the Hobbies or Special Interest category competition.
WNC EdNET sponsors the Student Technology Advisory Councils (STAC), and students are selected for STAC based on their interest and skills in technology as well as their leadership abilities. Each school develops a plan to help fulfill the STAC mission in their schools, and the students work throughout the year to implement their plan. A grant from Cherokee Preservation Foundation makes the program possible.
The robotics competition was designed and coordinated by students from Southwestern Community College’s Mechatronics program under the direction of Jim Falbo. Judges for the competitions included current and retired school personnel who donated their time.
Students had the opportunity to select from various workshops during the conference including: Cherokee Beadwork: Past and Present, Carmen Davis, Cherokee Central Schools technology coordinator; Cherokee Science: A Cultural Evolution of Weapons, Tools and Pottery, Ethan Clapsaddle and staff, Museum of the Cherokee Indian; Electromagnetic Windows in the Sky, Christi Whitworth, Pisgah Astronomical Research Institute (PARI); Google Cardboard Virtual Reality Explorations, Rachel McLean, Tri-County Community College; Reverse Engineering, Janet Frazier, Jackson County Public Schools; Spheros, Let’s Get the Ball Rolling!, Theresa Carroll and Jodi Marr, Swain County Schools; The Science of Flavor, Summer Cortinas, N.C. Bionetwork; Trash to Treasure (Entrepreneurship), Hope Huskey, The Sequoyah Fund; and Virtual Learning with zSpace Labs, Bette Fitzgerald, Cherokee Central Schools.