Competition blends activities, academics

By Greg Gelpi

Wasting no time, the Lovejoy Middle School Chapter of the Technology Student Association, only in its third year, claimed 20 awards at this year's state competition.

The competition mixed physical projects with academic interviews and presentations.

The school is now gearing up for the national competition in Nashville from June 20 to June 24.

From PowerPoint presentations to a fan-powered boat, the TSA students competed with a number of projects in a number of categories.

"These are the kids that at the end of a frustrating day keeps me here," industrial technology teacher Christie Schmitt said. "These are my kids."

She started the chapter her first year of teaching at the school after having judged the competition her junior and senior years in college.

"In the county, we're the only middle school this active," Schmitt said.

Carving a boat out of Styrofoam, coating it in a waterproof plastic material and assembling it with wooden dowels, Hudson Greer competed in the marine design category.

Greer said that the project involved picking a port country, researching the impact of imports and exports on the country and designing a boat that would be found in one of its ports. Greer also had to race the boat, placing it in a large tub of water and propelling it with a box fan.

He said he enjoys the technology classes because they are much more hands on.

Eighth-grader Ashlee Patrick developed a PowerPoint presentation to persuade companies to contribute to TSA. Only in the organization for a month, she deigned the presentation, answered questions from judges about the presentation and earned second place in the talk multimedia division of the competition.

She said her presentation was "clear" and simple, setting her presentation apart from others.

Chapter President Brittney Loehne, who earned the outstanding student award at the state level, said the organization has taught her leadership and teamwork.

TSA is a "co-curricular" organization Schmitt said. Students can be placed in a number of connections classes, including technology classes. Students in TSA must take a technology class before joining the organization.

The TSA chapter is raising money for its trip to the national competition. For more information on the organization or to make contributions for the trip, call Cindi McHone at (770) 473-2933.