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posted: Thu, Sep 18th, 2014


For the past several years, the Technology Student Association club at Mount Olive Middle School has successfully competed at the state level. (Last spring, for example, the students took home 11 trophies in the annual New Jersey competition.) 

During the summer, it was time to take on the nation. Seventeen MOMS students traveled to National Harbor in Maryland, just outside of Washington D.C., and joined more than 6,800 students and educators from around the country at the 2014 National Technology Student Association (TSA) conference

At the event, middle and high school students took part in more than 60 STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) competitions. Categories included

agriculture and biotechnology, animated STEM video, video game design, dragster design, flight endurance, and structural engineering. The various competitions included those for pre-built projects and those that tested STEM skills on site.

MOMS students finished in the top 10 in five categories:

Agriculture and Biotechnology

Aash Bhuva and Aum Bhuva - 8th place


Challenging Technology Issues

Justin Mickus and Varshitha Devagiri - 9th place


Construction Challenge

Eli Gabriel and Brandon Mai - 9th place



John Nguyen - 2nd place


STEM Animation

Sofia Lake and Hannah Lake - 6th place


In addition, Justin Mickus was one of the top 12 semifinalists in the Prepared Speech competition.

When the students weren’t competing or attending conference seminars, they explored Washington, D.C. with their families and chaperones. The students visited sights such as the National Museum of Natural History, the National Air & Space Museum, and the Washington Monument. They also attended a Washington Nationals baseball game.

Perhaps the best part of the trip for the students, though, was meeting the other kids and teachers from around the country. The MOMS students met with the 19 other teams from New Jersey and also had an opportunity to meet all the participants from the nation at the welcome ceremony and a TSA social. 

“It was pretty fun to see people who you’d be competing against and were interested in the same things you were interested in,” said eighth-grader Varshitha Devagiri. 

On the final day of the conference, the projects from all the competitions were on display. Eighth-grader Alexandra Szewc took careful note with an eye toward future competitions. 

“Getting a chance to look at what everybody did and how they approached their projects was really great,” Alexandra said. “You could see huge, incredible ideas that included a lot of creative techniques. Definitely things to think about.”

The TSA team was coached by Beth Cohen and Nick Cutro. Siemens, a long-time supporter of district STEM activities, helped sponsor the trip.

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Mount Olive Middle School
160 Wolfe Road Budd Lake, NJ 07828
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