Middletown juniors start online STEM club
When schools closed for the remainder of the academic year, this meant clubs and sports were canceled too. Three Middletown students started a group to help take the place of these activities.
Juniors Collin Bowers, Raaj Pednekar and Victor Shi formed the STEM Organization of Delaware to give students around the state a platform to innovate and connect with people interested in science, technology, engineering and math.
“We created an organization during the start of quarantine because many of the clubs we were a part of got cancelled. We knew a lot of other students were having a similar problem,” Pednekar said.
The group is open to all high school students across the state. After launching the first week of May, they have more than 50 members from 12 different schools with representation from every county. Shi said they have been connecting with members using Zoom, email and social media.
The online club has a competition, in which students can design anything they want as long as it is STEM-related and follows the guidelines.
“We want the contestants to be creative,” Bowers said. “We don't want to isolate anyone if they don't have the proper resources.”
First place receives $150, second place $50 and third place $25. The prize money is funded by Bowers, Pednekar and Shi. They have two other awards for best design process and most creative project.
Pednekar said they plan to have another competition in the fall and spring and are hoping to get sponsors.
Delaware STEM Council invited the three juniors to its awards night in November, and Shi said they plan to bring the winners with them.
Pednekar said he hopes the organization gives students a place to share interests and a place to pursue their passions.
“I would just encourage anyone who is interested in STEM or bored during quarantine to give it a try and if you win that’s great. If not, it's something that's rewarding,” he said.
Project must be submitted by June 15. Bowers, Pednekar and Shi aren’t participating, and University of Pennsylvania graduates who work in STEM will judge. The winner will be announced June 22.
More information about the organization and the competition can be found at stemde.org.