By Jacob Perkins
Nearly 12,000 K-12 students from across the state showed judges what they can do with technology in arts and STEM at the 2019 Student Technology Leadership Program (STLP) State Championship April 18 in Rupp Arena.
Students from 496 schools and 103 districts demonstrated many career-ready skills by participating in nearly 50 different competition areas.
Harper Taylor, a 5th-grader from Heartland Elementary (Hardin County), helped create a project called “Oh the Places Heartland Can Go.” This project lets individuals travel the world through virtual reality (VR). By traveling through VR, would-be world travelers can see the world and save money.
Taylor said that her project taught her more about different places around the world. She said that STLP has played a key role in helping her figure out that she wants to be a travel agent when she grows up.
“STLP helps me know that I don’t have to have as much money as other people do to do special things.” she said.
Competing in the middle school division – and the winners of the 6th- through 8th-grade state championship – was the team from Allen Elementary (Floyd County) with their project, “Forget Me Not.” The project was designed to help detect and save children that are trapped in a vehicle during extreme temperatures. The team coded devices that alert people around a vehicle when a child has been locked in a car that is too hot or too cold. The device also can alert if the parent or guardian has been away from the vehicle for too long.
“We all sat around and talked about ways that we could help the community and the whole world,” said team member Bradley Jervis.
Jervis said STLP provided a great learning experience by giving him the opportunity to compete against other schools. He said STLP has played a key role in helping him decide that he wants to work in the technology field when he is out of school.
Jada Hunter-Hays, a 10th-grader from LaRue County High School, competed alongside her team members in the high school division.
Hunter-Hays and her fellow team members created IFIT (Innovative Females in Technology). IFIT has helped teach 4th- and 5th-grade girls in LaRue County how to code and build robots during a course that lasts 20 weeks.
“It’s been a wonderful experience to reach these girls and expose them to STEM and to give them opportunities that I wasn’t able to receive myself,” Hunter-Hays said.
Hunter-Hays wants to pursue a career in computer engineering once she is done with school and she feels that STLP has given her a chance to put her skills to work.
“I’m going to be going to the Gatton Academy, and STLP especially gave me a leg up on getting into the STEM world,” she said. “STLP got me more interested in coding. At first I was just playing around, but now I can put it to use and teach those around me in my community.”
STLP is open to all students, K-12, and taps into their interests by challenging and motivating them to explore new ways of learning and helping their school and community. The Kentucky Department of Education’s Office of Education Technology sponsors STLP events to highlight the creative, logical and often entrepreneurial talents of students across the Commonwealth.