Petroleum academy students develop skills, sportsmanship at STEM Showdown

Students from three HISD high schools took home prizes, as well as lessons on teamwork and sportsmanship from the recent Viva Technology STEM Showdown.

The event, which took place on Nov. 6 at University of Houston, is a partnership between Great Minds in STEM and Shell Oil Company. It provides traditionally underserved high-school students in IPAA/PESA Petroleum Academies with a chance to compete in an intensive series of STEM challenges alongside undergraduate partners attending local universities.

More than 100 young people participated in the Showdown this year, and students from HISD’s Westside High School, Energy Institute, and Milby High School (along with their university partners) walked away with prizes for their performances.

The championship title and top prize of $3,500 went to Energy Institute and its partner, University of Houston (UH). The runner-up was Milby High School, whose students won $1,500 and worked with undergraduates from University of Texas at Austin (UT).

“This event is designed to get students excited about STEM careers,” said Energy Institute STEM Coordinator René Flores. “It’s kind of like a big STEM pep rally, and our ninth-grade students get introduced to STEM activities. But what I enjoy most about it is that they learn how to work together with undergraduate students and celebrate other people’s successes.”

Flores said that the $3,500 prize will be used to supplement the school’s existing engineering programs by offsetting the costs of a “build” experience, a guest speaker, or entrance fees for another competition.

The Westside/UH team was also recognized with the “Safety Award.” The Milby/UT and Energy/UH teams took home other prizes.

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