Engineering students volunteer with Jag Wars competition

Engineering students help run stations at eighth grade Jag Wars competition on Friday, Feb. 24

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By Mia Thomas

Eighth grade students fly a drone at the Jag Wars.

Deanna Newman, JAG reporter/photographer

By Mia Thomas
While giving instructions on how to operate a robot at the Jag Wars, sophomore Ryan Williams shows the students his iPad screen on Friday, Feb. 24.

Eighth graders from all three De Soto school district middle schools gathered in the auxiliary gym on Friday, Feb. 24 to compete in a Star Wars themed engineering competition. The competition was started this year by engineering teachers Helga Brown and Gayle Kebodeaux.

The competition is put on by engineering students such as senior Dru Jones to get middle school students interested in engineering.

“Brown and Kebodeaux did a lot of talking with the middle schools trying to get more people involved in the engineering programs,” Jones said. “They wanted to find a fun way to get all the kids up here and interested [in engineering].”

During the competition, eighth grade engineering students worked to complete four different stations within the given time to earn points. The four Star Wars themed stations were named death star plans, lightsabers, x-wings, and starkiller.

By Mia Thomas
Sophomore Kadin Beck and junior Shane Gray talk to students.

Although this is the first competition for eighth graders, Liz Fraka and other students have competed within their engineering classes.

“This is the first engineering competition at Mill Valley for middle schoolers,” Fraka said. “Last year, they did one for the high schoolers which I think is being repeated.”

In association with Johnson County Community College and all three district middle schools, sophomore Julie Brown and other engineering students were able to help eighth graders explore more engineering skills throughout the stations.

By Mia Thomas
As eighth graders participate in a station activity, junior Gage Weber looks on.

“Kebodeaux and Brown reached out to JCCC and they put together this competition so that they could have an opportunity for the middle schoolers to learn more about JCCC and learn more about the Project Lead The Way,” Brown said.

Project Lead The Way is a nonprofit organization that specializes in developing STEM curriculum for schools. The middle schoolers competed at each station to earn the most points. The end results of the competition are first place to Mill Creek, second place to Lexington Trails, and third place to Monticello Trails.

Competitions such as Jag Wars will be continued to help students explore engineering according to Jones.

By Mia Thomas
Junior Amanda Hertel instructs a student how to use the equipment needed to fly a drone.

“[The goal is] to get kids having fun with engineering,” Jones said. “Also to see if they’re interested in [engineering] and hopefully get more kids to enroll in the program.”

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