SECME Teams Win National Titles

SECME Teams at Two District Schools Win National Titles
Posted on 05/27/2021
Months of planning, designing, measuring, constructing, and testing led students from both Jupiter Farms Elementary and Kathryn E. Cunningham/Canal Point Elementary to earn each school’s first national-level win at the 2021 SECME National Engineering Design Student Competition.

An all-girls team from Jupiter Farms Elementary placed first in the national water bottle rocket competition for the elementary category.

“It has really inspired them – that they were able to accomplish something like this that they would never even have dreamed possible,” said Jennifer Pineiro, a STEM teacher at Jupiter Farms. “We’re so happy we had girls involved in the team. They usually get left behind in the science and engineering world. I really think they see that they can do anything.”

The students used recycled materials to build their water bottle rocket, which placed first in the elementary water bottle rocket category in the local Olympiad on March 6. Students on the team included Eva Hall, Jillian Pineiro, Josie Pineiro, and Peyton Williamson.

Student building water bottle rocketThe 2021 SECME National Engineering Design Student Competition was held virtually this year using data from the local Olympiad. The winning water bottle rocket was built by Hall and Josie Pineiro.

Jupiter Farms Elementary has been focused on boosting science, technology, engineering, art, and math (STEAM) programs and resources in the school, including adding a STEM lab, with the help of the school’s Parent Teacher Organization.

“It's great to see that hard work and investment over six years rewarded by something like this,” Jennifer Pineiro said.

K.E. Cunningham/Canal Point Elementary SECME teams have won the local Olympiad in the past, but this was the school’s first time nabbing the national first-place prize in the mousetrap car competition for the elementary level.

“They were excited to see that we were able to beat schools all over the place,” said Brian Zimmerman, speech-language pathologist and SECME coordinator at K.E. Cunningham/Canal Point.

The students who took part in the national mousetrap car competition were Joseph Gonzalez, Zachary Valdez, and Paris Jenkins. Zimmerman says the winning mousetrap cars from previous Olympiads are displayed in a trophy case by the school’s cafeteria. This year’s team studied design elements from various student-built mousetrap cars to come up with their final result.

The students learned how to safely use tools to construct their mousetrap car and to overcome obstacles, including figuring out how to best angle the car during the competition because it often ran crooked.

“This opens their eyes to other kinds of jobs and careers that are out there and shows them if they work at it, they can be good at those kinds of jobs,” Zimmerman said.

SECME encompasses Science, Engineering, Communication, Mathematics, and Enrichment. It was created to prepare traditionally underserved students with hands-on STEM experience and create a workforce to fill high-demand jobs.