Russ Steele, SESF Executive Director
This week the Sierra Economics and Science Foundation is sponsoring TechTestJr for 2017, with partners Telestream and AJA Video. The TechTestJr exam took place on Thursday the 23rd of March at the following partner locations (pictured and indicated below). This year TechTestJr was part of the Nevada County STEAM Expo [http://www.nevcoexpo.org/] held on Saturday the 25th of March at the Nevada County Fair Grounds at which time the test takers received their awards.
Grades 5 and 6: AJA Video - 180 Litton Dr., Grass Valley
Grades 7 and 8: Telestream - 848 Gold Flat Rd., Nevada City
TechTest Jr. is a math-based exam that focuses on problem-solving methodologies and critical thinking skills. This challenging opportunity is offered to 5th through 8th graders from all schools in Nevada County. The event includes tours and demos, providing the students with a glimpse of life in the high-tech world of manufacturing. Students have an opportunity to collect some insight into what engineers, scientists, and their support teams do to create devices sold around the world.
This year approximately 30 students signed up in each category. The top three winners in each category taking home quadcopters equipped with HD cameras, including a paper by Forrest M. Mims III, America's premier amateur scientist and author of "Forrest Mims' Science Experiments." The Mims' article describes how to use these mechanical marvels to collect real science data for analysis.
A couple of years ago, I had lunch with an MIT astronomer who was working on the Chandra X-Ray Telescope. I asked her how she became interested in astronomy. She told me a man came to her sixth-grade science class and showed students how to build a telescope using PVC plastic pipe, surplus Xerox copier lenses and an eyepiece. She went home and built a telescope, which launched an interest in astronomy and her acceptance to MIT. We hope the TechTest prizes will similarly spark students’ interest in a STEM career.
SESF's goals are two-fold: First, to excite students to seek Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math careers. And second, to encourage students to prepare for the TechTest Merit Scholarship program in their senior year to compete for a share of $15,000 + in college scholarships.
TechTest2017 will be held on 1 April 2017 9am-1pm in the Science Lecture Hall of Nevada Union High School (contact Ms Barbara Ross at NUJHSD for information). We are looking forward to all of this years TechTestJr participant's to compete in future TechTests. Past TechTests and more information about TechTestJr winners are at http://sesfoundation.org.
SESF Board Members coordinating TechTestJr activities this year are David Pistone and Laura van den Berg. Donations from Intel and Telestream funded the prizes. It is these hard-working Board Members and our partnership with these technology companies, including AJA Video, which make TechTestJr possible.
[28mar17 update] The Union today published a well written article (here) by SESF's David Pistone describing TTjr and last week's doings with the test and its recognition as part of the county's STEAM festivities at the fairground.