Travelers Rest students take third in MAIS state STEM competition

Published 11:38 am Tuesday, October 31, 2023

Students from Travelers Rest Christian Academy finished third overall in the elementary division of the Mid-South Association of Independent Schools state Science, Technology, Engineering and Math, or STEM, competition held Oct. 21 at Lamar Christian School in Purvis.

Zenobia Harris, Travelers Rest’s STEM coach, said three students, fourth-grader Aliyah Bryant, third-graderTrinity Thompson and fifth-grader Kory Grayer, advanced to the regional finals that will be held on Jan. 13 at Hartfield Academy in Flowood.

Harris said the competition in which Travelers Rest participated was for students in the third, fourth and fifth grades with students being tested at grade level. She said the students were tested in all four STEM disciplines.

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“There was a math event where they went into a classroom with the instructor and they did a math activity, and then they did a short test afterward,” she said. “The second part was science. They went in another classroom and took part in a demonstration, and then they did a test afterward.”

Harris said the students then participated in the trim triangle, a test presented by NASA for the technology test and for engineering, the students were required to identify tools set on a table and then use a tape measure, yardstick and caliper to measure certain items and participated in a foam rocket shoot.

For their final test, the students were required to disassemble and then reassemble a bicycle.

“They had to take both wheels off, then the brakes and the kickstand and loosen the handlebars,” Harris said. “They were given a flag when to start. When they had all the parts taken off they had a red flag to hold up to signal to the coaches on the floor, showing they were complete.”

On another signal, the students reassembled the bicycle. Once the bicycle was assembled, Harris said, a student had to ride it around the gym to make sure the parts were reassembled correctly.

“In this particular competition, Travelers Rest Christian Academy students came in third place,” she said.

Harris said students who came in either first, second, third or fourth place received tickets worth 20 to 100 points as part of their reward and were able to exchange their tickets for prizes.

The students also received STEM points, which can later help them get internships at tech companies.

“Once they get to high school, (the students) can qualify to apply for an internship with Nissan and NASA,” Harris said. “This helps them as they advance and helps them to be able to move ahead.

“It helps them to move ahead in the science, the math. And they strictly stress the technology, the engineering part because they’re saying that Nissan and NASA are looking for students to participate in their internship or program.”

Harris said the school’s STEM program began this year.

“Once I received this flyer (for the competition), that’s when I implemented it,” she said. “I want to say that was back in the latter part of August or the first of September.”

She said Academy Director Janet Watts told her about the competition.

“We have the students that are capable of doing these things, so I said, why not?” Watts said. “We’ve always competed.”

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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