Tech students from Schools No. 4 and No. 9 accepted into inventors competition

students working at a table

A group of technology students from Schools No. 4 and No. 9 have been accepted to take part in the STEAM Tank Challenge, a state competition in which students apply science and technology skills to create a product that addresses a real-world problem.

The program encourages students and teachers to work collaboratively in science, technology, engineering, art, and math (STEAM). It also supports the development of critical thinking and problem-solving skills.

The Linden team is made up of the Student Vanguard technology club at School No. 4 and the fifth-grade Gifted & Talented students at School No. 9 under the guidance of technology teacher Mitch Gorbunoff.

The students’ invention is the Read-O-Matic, which is designed to help students learn letter sounds then blend them together. It works using a device called a Makey Makey, which allows any conductive material to be turned into a keystroke. Students use Scratch, a programming website, to code specific sounds each time certain keys are pressed. Students form letters out of Play-Doh then place these letters on metal squares on the board. When the student presses on their Play-Doh letter, they hear the correct letter sound.

“To say I’m proud of these future engineers is an understatement,” Gorbunoff said. “These kids continue to raise the bar and show us what can be done when we empower our students to take ownership of their learning and ground their experiences in the real world.”

The competition is ongoing and the Linden team expects to hear in the coming weeks when it will meet with judges. The program was created by the New Jersey School Boards Association (NJSBA) and is sponsored by the U.S. Army.

The team includes:

From School No. 4: Jayden Countrymen, Izabelle Rivera, Eva Bien, Heidy Yanes, Izrum Efobi, and Andrea Rivas

From School No. 9: Philipe Pajishvili, Marc Prieto, Rasha Bashir, Hunter Miller, and Nina Szczurowski

“These kids embody the ambition, confidence, and grit needed to push through challenges and ultimately create something amazing,” Gorbunoff said. “We don’t get hung up on our mistakes, we learn from them and go on to new heights. It’s a lesson I thought I was teaching them, but these are students who profoundly understand this.

“Most of their time in school has been about adapting and changing, they already know this, all I did was point them in the right direction.”

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