Inside scoop on the ice cream scoop competition

Robin Taylor and Aaron Vliet took home second place for Friday Harbor High School in Computer Integrated Manufacturing Competition during the Washington State Technology Student Association competition March 16.

“STEM [Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics] is one of the few areas where students can see the interdisciplinary relationships,” Samuel Garson, Friday Harbor High School science teacher said.

According to the website, The Technology Student Association is a non-profit national student organization with a mission to inspire its student members to prepare for careers in a technology-driven economy and culture.

In Washington alone, TSA serves more than 150 middle and high schools and more than 7,000 students.TSA’s national membership includes 200,000 middle and high school students in 2,000 schools spanning 48 states. The organization also has chapters in Puerto Rico, as well as internationally in Germany, and Scotland.

TSA is the only student organization devoted exclusively to students interested in technology. The non-profit is open to students enrolled in or who have completed technology education and pre-engineering courses. Members are typically interested in careers such as architecture, engineering, construction, manufacturing, film/video production, or graphic arts. The judges, according to Garson, were a mix of professionals in the industry and TSA alumni.

The challenge for the CIM competition was to design a 3D CAD original ice cream scoop and print the prototype on a 3D printer. For the Structural Design and Engineer competition, the students needed to design a bridge. Taylor brought home third place with her design last year. This year, Friday Harbor High student Tyler Hillman competed for that prize but was sadly disqualified. “I’m not sure why,” Garson said. “The specifications are very narrow and have high standards. I’m hoping he will come back next year.”

Garson is also hoping to expand participation, including adding middle school students.

Entertaining events were scheduled throughout the duration of the competition, including a cardboard boat race. Students created a boat out of cardboard and crossed the pool inside the vessel.

“A lot of people ended up in the water,” Taylor said with a laugh.

She added that she and Vliet worked really well together to accomplish the mission. In fact, all three of them got along well. “It was very much a sibling trip. It was really fun,” Taylor said.

“It was super interesting to be around a bunch of students from all around the state, all being interested in various STEM subjects,” Vliet said.

When asked why science, technology, engineering, and math were important, Garson explained that they teach students how to think critically and apply to everything. As the world evolves technologically, the work young people of today will be competing for may not have been created yet, Garson added. By learning STEM skills, they will be able to adapt to a swiftly changing labor market.

“There is not one job that could not be improved by STEM,” he said.

Taylor said she was drawn to the TSA competition because it provides hands-on experience with an added bonus of enhancing college applications, which she has several pending.

The trip was possible due to funding provided by the San Juan Islands School Foundation, Garson said, “We did not have that in our budget.” As a result, Garson added, the small Friday Harbor team was able to go toe to toe with larger schools that have more resources and funding.

“The San Juan Public Schools Foundation was critical,” Garson said. “Their support allows us to be able to focus on student opportunities like this. Teachers from other districts have no idea how we do it.”