Technology and Engineering Education major Robert Wetzel reflects on the STEM Educators Society’s experience at regional conference.
29 members of TCNJ’s STEM Educators Society (SES) recently traveled to Rehoboth Beach, DE to compete in the annual Technology and Engineering Education Collegiate Association (TEECA) Eastern Regional Conference.
Prior to the conference, members of the club spent many days preparing to compete in 10 possible competitions: Communications, Instructional Module, K-5 STEM Challenge, Manufacturing Challenge, Poster Session, Problem Solving Challenge, VEX Robotics, Transportation, Teaching Lesson, and Technology Challenge.
On the first night of the conference, each college or university in attendance sends four representatives to compete in the Technology Challenge. Teams must answer questions about Technology and Engineering Education quickly and correctly to stay in the game. Colleges and universities from all over the region cheer on their teams.
The next day, our students competed all day. Some students had to give presentations of the work they completed, and others spent the entire day solving an on-site problem. Throughout the day, students had the opportunity to interact with their peers from other schools, as well as judges and in-service professionals. During lunch time, there was a job fair, where students could interact with individuals from schools from up and down the east coast. Students had the opportunity to hand out resumes and do short “elevator speeches” about themselves to potential employers.
After all of the competitions ended, everyone got ready to go to the formal banquet. We all wore our signature TCNJ SES wooden bow ties to the event! At the dinner, we interacted with our peers both from TCNJ and other colleges and universities. We also heard a keynote speech from an in-service technology and engineering educator, as well as a brief speech from the president of the International Technology and Engineering Education Association.
After the dinner, we had the opportunity to watch those who competed in the Problem Solving Challenge test their devices. For this year’s challenge, they had to create a device to play volleyball with the other team’s devices, and they had to try to volley the ball to score points. Later, all of the participating schools gathered in a room to watch each school’s Manufacturing Challenge team complete their manufacturing run of a Tic-Tac-Toe game. This is a fun event for all attendees, as there is often a lot of chanting between schools, like a competitive sports game for future technology and engineering teachers.
On the final day, we had the opportunity to watch the Transportation Challenge teams test their devices. Their challenge was to use a robotics kit and various materials to create a device that can pick up garbage off of the beach. The teams were given a limited budget, and needed to use it wisely for their project.
Everyone attended the awards luncheon to wrap up the weekend. TCNJ’s STEM Educators Society brought home 8 awards: 1st place in the K-5 STEM Challenge and Instructional Module, 2nd place in Communications, Manufacturing Challenge, Teaching Lesson, and Transportation Challenge, and 3rd place in the Poster Session and Problem Solving. Overall, this trip was an incredible experience for all of the students that attended, and STEM Educators Society hopes to be able to continue this tradition for years to come. Some of the students will be competing at the national conference in March, so wish them luck on their endeavors!
– Robert Wetzel ’22