District’s Petroleum Academies show off their talents at the Shell STEM Showdown

Do you think you can build a geodesic dome from plastic straws and masking tape that will not only stand up, but also hold weight? Students from Milby HS, Westside HS, Energy Institute HS and the Young Women’s College Preparatory Academy, along with Fort Worth ISD’s Southwest High School, did just that in the spirit of competition at the Viva Technology™ Shell STEM Showdown at the University of Houston.

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Three teams from each school teamed up with university students from UH, UH Downtown, Rice University, Texas A&M, and Texas Christian University. Guided by their college counterparts, the high schoolers competed throughout the day in a series of hands-on exercises designed to stimulate interest in the applications of technology.

“This event allows students who are in our IPAA/PESA petroleum academies to see the hands-on application of what they are learning in the classroom and how it applies to the engineering industry,”  said Jessica Thomas, Associate Director, IPAA/PESA Energy Education Center.

The top prize at the 2014 Shell STEM Showdown was a $5,000 STEM Club grant won by the YWCPA students and Rice University. YWCPA students also won 1st and 2nd place in the geodesic dome and elevator pitch challenges, winning iPads and goPro cameras for themselves.

“We do this to inspire students and to help build a pipeline for the future for Shell,” said Mike Alvarez, Workforce Development Initiative Lead for Shell Oil Company, “And to try and inspire students to consider careers, in particular careers in engineering and geophysical science.”

The competition was not only a great opportunity for the students to learn about engineering and science careers, but, working with the university students, they also gained insights on how best to prepare for higher education.

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