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Catholic students take tech ed competition to the X-STREAM

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On May 15, the Department of Catholic Schools hosted the annual X-STREAM Games that pit Catholic elementary schools against one another to see who can use science, technology, engineering, art, religion and math to the greatest advantage.

Games included Kitchen Chemistry, Arcade Academy, and a Science Scrimmage. Students solved crimes in CSI/Forensics, invented products for the Shark Tank, and went grill to grill in a Robotics Competition.

The Shark Tank gave insight into the lives of elementary students as the youngsters tried to solve problems they see in their daily lives. Each team gave a three-minute presentation, then answered questions from a team of judges on practically, cost and origin of their inventions.

The grand prize went to Teagan Ferris and Chloe Waggoner of Southtowns Catholic. Their product, Sprint Refresh, added a magnet to a water bottle so it can stick to a goal post or a specially-made belt, so it is always handy. Athletes themselves, the girls know how hard it is to stay hydrated when their water bottle is out of reach.

“We just put a lot of work into doing this,” said Chloe. “Our school is proud of us and how we did it.”

“It feels good to win,” added Teagan.

The runner-up award went to another team from Southtowns Catholic that created Ocean Trails – a healthy snack option that included vegetables, fruits, proteins and grains, followed by a dessert. In incorporates a trail for young kids to follow as they eat their way through to their dessert. It’s a fun way to encourage kids to eat healthy, the team said. 

Uncomfortable chairs in the classroom? Why not use Food Chairs – seats that look like and smell like pizza, cake and coconuts. The Panther Paws team from St. John the Baptist School in Alden designed the chairs to be comfortable, flexible and suitable for students with ADHD. The chairs had different variations of each model such as a wobble bottom, wheels, spinning seats, as well as a standard flat seat.

The design earned St. John’s the Most Innovative Award.

“It was very impressive. You’re all winners in terms of developing a project and putting yourself out there to do this,” Dr. Tim Uhl, secretary for education, told the students at the end of the competition.

Another competition, CSI/Forensics is basically Clue for the 21st century. Students must find a killer by examining a dossier of evidence. It’s like having Col. Mustard’s fingerprints on file.

“We had to solve a mystery and find a murderer of this person,” explained Lara Lincoln, from SS. Peter & Paul School in Williamsville. “They give us clues and we have to figure out what’s in the room. If there’s cups with liquid inside, we have to test the liquid and find out what it is.”

“We also help find fingerprints and footprints and a lot of other stuff. It was really cool,” added Braelyn Waggoner.

There is no actual chemistry involved. Students have the lab results in front of them, but have to decipher the evidence using a universal indicator.

SS. Peter & Paul took home the award for most technically accurate.

“I can’t believe it. I’m still in shock,” said Lara.

“(Winning) was really cool. It felt really good,” said Braelyn.

Due to the Covid pandemic, this was the first X-STREAM Games held since December 2019. The comeback saw the most teams compete in Kitchen Chem and Shark Tank than ever before.

“Kitchen Chemistry was far and above anything I could have imagined. Every single team brought their ‘A’ game and really enjoyed the participation,” said Siobhan Pawelczyk, STREAM Program director. “I was really impressed with the dedication of the students in CSI/Forensics. They were working so hard to solve that murder mystery. It was really great. The teams in Shark Tank were absolutely spectacular. Some of the teams created logos and personalized equipment for their Shark Tank presentation.”

STREAM programing came to Buffalo in 2015 and is now in every Catholic elementary school in the diocese.

“The kids learn best when they play together,” explained Pawelczyk. “That increases the teamwork that they have. Every single kid we asked in Kitchen Chemistry why they loved (it) was because they got to bake for their friends and spend time with their friends. I think that’s a real important part. We’re at school for such a long time to do something that is so fun, but the kids are still really learning a lot of great academic skills that can’t be taught through a textbook.”

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