STEM Wars grow, expand to Northwest Arena

OBSERVER Photo by Christopher Blakeslee Several hundred elementary students from 13 schools competed Wednesday at the Northwest Arena as part of STEM Wars 2024. STEM Wars is a competition which revolves around science, technology, engineering, math and social, emotional and inclusion dilemmas and challenges students to think critically and to have an “out-of-the-box” approach when doing so.

Instead of weapons, students conducted war with their minds and creativity Wednesday.

STEM Wars 2024 continues at the Northwest Arena today with middle and high school students. Elementary school students STEM Wars took place Wednesday.

Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math wars combine a series of challenges, and includes contests in robotics building and programming, answering social and emotional dilemmas, catapult contests, and other thought-provoking, mind-challenging, engineering feats and contests.

STEM Wars has seen unprecedented growth, not only in the number of students who participate in it, but with the number of schools now represented, and other organizations who sponsor, support and attend it.

“Three years ago, we had five schools represented here,” said Shannon Sauder, STEM integrator for Southwestern Elementary School. “Now we have 13 schools and hundreds of students.”

Submitted Photo Students from Fletcher Elementary School’s STEM wars team pose for a picture Wednesday at the Northwest Arena during STEM Wars 2024.

In a previous Post-Journal article, Jacqueline Peterson, a teacher at Love Elementary School spoke about the donations and sponsorship her first grade class received from Cummins.

“We’re so grateful to Cummins for their donation and letting us get this far,” said Peterson, a teacher who advises the STEM Club at Love. “”It’s really great to have those supplies that we otherwise wouldn’t have been able to get on our own.”

As the popularity of the “war” continues to grow, the demand for more industrial and social critical thinking events do as well.

“We had so many kids who wanted to be part of our team we had to cut it,” said Carrie Lyons, the librarian at Fletcher Elementary School. “The kids have been asking for more than one STEM club and there’s a buzz about the teams for next year’s event. Our students really seemed to gravitate to the social equality questions. At our school, we have one therapy dog, who can’t be with every student who needs him. So, under the equality and inclusion portion of the competition our students came up with dog jewelry for classmates that have limited access to the pup as a way to stay connected and included.”

Several organizations not only provided table displays and interactive competitions, but also provided services and support to STEM Wars 2024.

OBSERVER Photo by Christopher Blakeslee Two fifth grade H. C. Fenner Elementary School students operate a castle and drawbridge display which their teammates helped build for the STEM Wars 2024 competition held Wednesday at the Northwest Arena.

The organizations included Blackstone Technology; Chautauqua Partnership for Economic Growth; Chautauqua Works; Cummins Int.; Dream it Do It; Gebbie Foundation; Manufacturing Association of the Southern Tier (MAST); New York State Technology and Engineering Educators Association; Ralph C. Willson Foundation and Weber Knapp Co. Members of the United States Job Corps Academy, Cassadaga, security trade students provided security for the event. Cadets with the United States Force’s official auxiliary, the Civil Air Patrol also attended this event.


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