Congratulations to the winners of our first essay contest

Nearly two months ago, we announced our first essay contest. After reading 49,531 words from 98 essays across 10 schools, we have our winners.

As STEM advocates, we tend to focus our message on adults. We aim to serve students across Ohio, typically by connecting educators and providing teachers with resources. While our work focuses on students, we don’t talk to them, or listen, as much as we could.

Over the past weeks, we listened. We heard how real students see the STEM mindset at work in their lives, not just their classroom. We can talk about “21st century skills” until we’re blue in the face, but how do these ideas affect the lives of students?

We found out, and found some incredible stories along the way. Students like Brianna Perkins from the Dayton Regional STEM School wrote about how she fell behind in algebra after her grandmother’s death, then caught up over the summer to make her proud. Becca Lenz from Global Impact STEM Academy was born as a triplet with an underdeveloped heart, and recently worked through her anxieties to get a job and apply for college. Avery Crouse of the Metro Institute of Technology interviewed his mother, sharing a story that took her from California to Columbus, with more than a few bumps along the way.

All of the participants used the STEM mindset to approach adversity in their lives. They came up against walls, and they didn’t give up. They found a way over, around, and past them, even if it took a few false starts.
These stories remind us that STEM is so much more than four subjects. True STEM education prepares students for life, whatever their life happens to look like. We think network schools are on the right track.
We’re excited for you to read several of these essays in the coming weeks.

For now, congratulations to our winners:
High school: Erica Barnes, Grade 11: National Inventors Hall of Fame STEM High School (Akron STEM High School)
Middle school: Teresa Chicatelli, Grade 7: St. Vincent de Paul Parish School

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