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posted: Mon, May 13th, 2019

Student wins award for leadership

Eighth-grader James Moore recently received a Morris County Superintendent’s Middle School Leadership Award. Presented by the Morris County Association of School Administrators, the award is given annually to one student from every middle school in the county who best represents the qualities of model citizenship and effective leadership.

James is a member of the school’s chapter of the National Jr. Honor Society, the Junior Tri-M Music Honor Society, the Junior Winds ensemble, the Jazz Band, and the student council. He plays on the MOMS baseball team as well on various community baseball and basketball teams.

An active member of Boy Scouts Troup #236, James is a patrol leader currently working toward achieving the rank of Eagle Scout. He also volunteers at Operation Jersey Cares, an organization that supports deployed military personnel, veterans, and military families.

The leadership award was presented to James at a ceremonial dinner held at the Hanover Marriott in Whippany. His parents, brother Jonathan, and Matt Robinson, school principal, also attended the dinner to help James celebrate his achievement.

An award-winning machine

A team of Mount Olive Middle School students recently took first place and two other awards in the STEAM Machine competition sponsored by the New Jersey Consortium of Gifted and Talented Programs.

The eighth-graders were challenged in science class to create a Rube Goldberg machine that would drop a penny into a piggy bank. Their NASCAR-themed device contained 16 steps that involved dominoes, ramps, motors, magnets, a pully system, and, of course, a race car. 

The students constructed their device over the course of about two weeks, including Lunch & Leisure time as well as time outside of the school day. The effort and ultimate success provided a valuable lesson.

“Dedication and sacrifice help you win,” said student Chris Mattfield. “Our machine was very well connected.”

With its many moving parts and stages, the intentionally complex mechanism allowed students to creatively apply all their science and technology knowledge. That’s really the learning objective of these types of competitions.

“So many scientific principles were involved,” said Ms. Pellek. “Forces, Newton’s Laws, different types of energy. I was so proud of what the kids came up with and how well they all worked together.” 

The team also won awards for creativity and teamwork. 

Vidhika Ramchandani, Ipshita Mamoon, and Tejashree Nagaraj show off the award-winning Braille book they created

STEAM team takes home trophies

MOMS students in the school's Technology Student Association (TSA) scored high honors in the New Jersey TSA State Conference, taking home a total of eight awards, including five 1st place trophies. 

At the conference, held at The College of New Jersey, the 46 MOMS students competed against students from about two dozen middle schools throughout the state in competitions involving STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and math).

 Several projects are notable, including two that can be used by students.

‘I Can Not See But I Can Imagine’

The first place-winning project by Vidhika Ramchandani, Ipshita Mamoon, and Tejashree Nagaraj was designed with a blind MOMS student in mind.

The girls wrote and developed a short book that was produced in Braille. “I Can Not See But I Can Imagine” follows Liam, a blind teen, who is told by his sister of a new technology she read about that can help the visually impaired better navigate their surroundings. Their parents purchase it for him, changing his life and in the process bringing the family closer together.

The text was printed using the Braille printer in the school library and illustrated with tactile drawings. Different materials such as cotton and felt were incorporated into the illustrations to make reading a sensory-rich experience.

Before finalizing the book, the girls asked for feedback from the blind student that helped inspired the project.

“When I saw him touching the book it was the best moment,” said Vidhika. “Just to see the smile on his face made it all worthwhile. We wanted to do something special for him and it felt like our hard work had all paid off.”

The project was personally important for Ipshita. The eighth-grader has a sister who is blind in one eye and Ipshita tried to inject into the story some of her own feelings and real-life family experiences. 

“It was kind of special,” she said of developing the book. “I hope it raises awareness that there are new technologies being developed every day that can help out people with disabilities.” 

An app for incoming sixth-graders

New sixth-graders can experience anxiety in the transition to middle school. Changing classrooms in an unfamiliar building, new faces, remembering locker combinations, and more responsibility can all add up. Ammar Mujtaba and Zain Mujtaba set out to do their part to make the transition a smooth one for incoming students. The brothers created an internet-based app chock full of helpful tips and info. It includes names of guidance counselors, teachers on the sixth-grade teams, and club advisers.  

While they didn’t win a TSA award, Ammar and Zain received a more important honor: Their app was highlighted during the recent fifth-grade parent and student orientation.

Machines, machines, machines

Members of the mechanical engineering team came up with a clever creation in one of the most difficult categories, but didn't win any awards.

The students developed a Rube Goldberg machine that combined three versions of each simple machine (lever, pulley, wheel, screw, inclined plane, and wedge) and was powered only by the transfer of energy. That’s 18 steps in total – all in a space of 2 feet by 3 feet. The space restriction forced the kids to think and design vertically.

A peg board, wood, cups, string, gears, dowels, and a whole lot of hot glue were some of the items used in the construction. No metal parts were allowed.

Beth Cohen is the school’s TSA advisor.

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