Two different teams from a Springfield middle school will be heading to Purdue University in Indiana to compete as finalists in a national science and technology competition.
Hayward Middle School had both of its teams chosen by the public out of teams from 30 other middle schools across the nation to participate in the final round of the TECHFIT (Teaching Engineering Concepts to Harness Future Innovators and Technologists) program sponsored by the university.
Purdue created the innovative STEM-based learning system five years ago. This is the second year Hayward has participated in the program.
“I think it’s really fun and it helps with learning and exercising. I learned a lot about 3D printing, building things, and thinking outside the box, I want to get into programming and making different things to help people out,” said Justen Pollard, a Hayward student.
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TECHFIT uses technology and fitness along with gaming to compel students to learn advanced technological concepts while developing basic physical fitness habits. By the end of the program, student teams videotape their working project and submit them to Purdue for competition.
Last year, Hayward was TECHFIT’s overall champion and won People’s Choice for Video voting.
“Our eighth-grade class this year wants to take this class again and wants to implement it in the high school,” said Dave Zeller, the TECHFIT instructor at Hayward.
At the start of the project, the students must design a game that requires technology and fitness. After they finish designing, they create computer animation to show how the game is played, and then program code to back the animation and design. After testing, Zeller said they make videos that showcase the whole process and final product.
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Purdue then posts the videos to YouTube and lets the public pick the top eight teams. Those eight teams get to go to the university and show off their live games at the annual TECHFIT Showcase.
“There are maybe 10 different states that teach TECHFIT. We are one of about six schools in the state of Ohio. And there are typically about 20 schools that submit videos. So, for us to have two teams selected out of those eight and out of those 20 different schools is a big honor,” Zeller said.
You can learn more about Purdue’s TECHFIT Program for middle/high school curriculum at https://techfit.tech.purdue.edu/