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May 13, 2011 > Students excel at 'Tech Challenge'

Students excel at 'Tech Challenge'

Story and photo submitted by Jean Loreno

Fifth graders Shayne Bhatia, Mihir Baya, Bill Nguy, Ishan Sastry and Saavan Parikh from Gomes Elementary school in Fremont, participated in The Tech Challenge, a signature program competition of The Tech Museum, held in San Jose on April 30. This 5th grade rookie team solved this year's challenge-'Cleaning up the Great Pacific Gyre,' a massive collection of plastic trash in the Pacific Ocean, without harming marine life. The Pacific Gyre is roughly the size of Texas, and approximately 3.5 million tons of trash was found in this dump floating midway between Hawaii and San Francisco.

Fifth grade teacher Mr. Eric Lee runs the Eco Club at Gomes Elementary School, along with Ms. Lisa Garcia. He inspired the students to understand this real world problem and find a solution. After confronting many challenges, the students developed a device that removed plastic trash from a dry mock-up of the garbage patch without disturbing models of plants and fish. Like other teams, they were evaluated on their device's performance, engineering process, journal, style and presentation; points were awarded for teamwork and perseverance.

More than 250 teams- nearly 1,200 students, representing nine Bay Area counties and teams from as far away as India, participated in this year's 'Great Pacific Gyre Challenge.' The Tech Challenge meets California's Curriculum and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) standards and reinforces the skills students need in the 21st century: writing, design, evaluation, management, teamwork and presentation. It is designed to provide months of science and math team learning and provides young people with the real-life engineering design challenges that inspire creativity and build teamwork skills.

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