Dr. Ashley Gess, assistant professor of STEAM education in the College of Education at Augusta University, proudly presented 3D printers to the two grand prize-winning teams of this year’s STEAMIFY competition this week. The STEAMIFY winning teams were from North Harlem Elementary and Greenbrier Middle schools in Columbia County.
“These two teams were awarded the grand prize for STEAMIFY. And what this means is, out of all the participants, in every category, they had the highest overall scores out of everybody,” Gess said during the awards presentation on March 30. “So, we have a special prize for each one of these grand prize students and for their classrooms.
“For the students, we want to award them each a 3D pen that they can have and take home because we want to encourage their continued creativity. And, because they are grand prize winners, we also wanted to give the classroom a brand-new 3D printer that they can use, especially when they are doing more STEAMIFY.”
STEAMIFY is a design-based and problem-solving competition that gives students in grades 4-8 the opportunity to apply the content they are learning in school in the contexts of either engineering or art.
By doing so, students can construct deep understandings of how this knowledge can be authentically used in their daily lives, Gess explained.
Emily Harrison, a Horizons teacher at North Harlem Elementary in Columbia County, said she couldn’t be more proud of the fifth-grade team made up of students Tristyn Walls, Blair Carpenter, Abbi Blackmon, Natalia Copple, Akashia Page and Reese Stolte.
“This was an amazing experience for us,” Harrison said. “We heard so many times when starting this year, ‘No, no, no. You can’t do this. You can’t go there because of COVID.’ But, with STEAMIFY, which is something that we competed in last year, we finally got a yes.”
The teams at North Harlem Elementary were thrilled to be able to compete in STEAMIFY this year, even if it was held virtually due to the pandemic.
“We just had a wonderful experience and we are excited to do it again next year,” Harrison said. “Our students are seeing success and seeing hard work pay off. And they are feeling like a team, a united team, which is wonderful.”
Receiving a 3D printer for the school is “just icing on the cake,” she said.
“For us, it’s not about winning. It’s about the winning experience,” Harrison said. “Winning is nice. It’s fun, but we just had such a great experience with this and we can’t sing STEAMIFY’s praises enough.”
North Harlem student Tristyn Walls was jumping up and down after receiving her own 3D pen. A 3D pen works by heating a plastic filament that comes out of the tip of the pen. Once the melted plastic leaves the tip it is malleable and can be molded into any shape.
“I have always wanted a 3D pen. I love it,” Walls said, hugging the box. “I have been wishing for one of these pens for Christmas for practically my entire life. I’m so excited.”
Sixth-grade girls Kherington Phillips, Maile Veriato and Mia Riley made up the Greenbrier Middle team that was the grand prize winner in the STEAMIFY competition. David Phillips, coordinator of the Greenbrier Middle School STEM team and a science teacher at the school, was impressed with the team’s engineering project called, “We Volunteer as Tribute.”
“Their task was to redesign their classroom to maximize connectivity while also social distancing,” Phillips said. “Obviously, this task is very relevant to the challenges they face every day. They came up with a very innovative ‘lofted classroom’ idea that really stood out.”
Greenbrier Middle School Principal Chip Fulmer said all of the teams that competed at Greenbrier Middle School are community leaders in the making.
“You guys are our future,” Fulmer said during the presentation. “You guys are our school leaders and I know you will be our high school leaders.
“I just want to say how proud I am of you. This is no small feat. You are going against a number of students and you competed and showed what you can bring to the table and you are here as champions.”