Excalibur STEM Coaches Team to State Finals

Nov 30, 2022

A five-student team from Columbus Christian Academy in Columbus, MS, participated in the Midsouth Association of Independent Schools (MAIS) North Region STEM Competition on Saturday, November 12, 2022.  The entire team qualified to participate in the state competition to be held in January, 2023.

The team, comprised of 7th and 8th grade students, was coached by Robert Walsh, Founder of the Excalibur Solutions STEM Academy.  They are part of a class being taught at CCA where they are learning to program by creating games and simulations in Scratch.

Students participated in six individual events.  In addition to tests of general knowledge in math and science, students were challenged to interpret a message that had been encoded using ASCII and represented in binary.  They had to construct a working circuit using a 6-volt battery, a light switch, a light bulb, and a motor.  They were asked to identify a number of different tools used in carpentry and electronics, and they used a basket-shooting robot to see how many foam balls they could put through a hoop.  Additionally, they worked in teams with other students to construct a vehicle from cardboard and duct tape, then the teams competed to see whose vehicle traveled farthest after being rolled down a ramp.

All but one of the students on the CCA team had never competed in this kind of event before.  To qualify for the state competition, each student had to place 1st, 2nd, or 3rd in at least one of the individual events.  One of the CCA students had the second highest student score, and the team had the highest average student score.

To help these students prepare, Mr. Walsh spent the week prior allowing all students in the CCA classes to engage in events similar to those that were part of the competition.  They were able to build the electronic circuit virtually in Tinkercad as well as practicing with the actual components.  He also shared some of his personal experiences as a long-time computer programming to help students understand the binary number system and how to use an ASCII chart.  The students on the team recognized the value in this preparation when they saw how similar the challenges were to those they had done in class.

In 2021, Mr. Walsh took a two-student team from Delta Streets Academy to the MAIS North Region STEM Competition.  There, too, both students qualified for state, and they went on to win Top School and Top Student honors!  We can't wait to see how the Columbus Christian Academy team does at state.

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