This past weekend I found myself among other Piqua parents driving our children to Cincinnati to compete in the Southwest Regional Invention Convention competition. This event was comprised of the top 190 students from nineteen counties in the Dayton and Cincinnati region who earned the opportunity to advance from their school competitions to the regional level. While many of the schools represented have participated in this event consecutively for many years this was the maiden trip for our Piqua City Schools five representatives along with their advisor who serves on our staff.
Making it to the Cincinnati regional competition was a tough challenge which began many months before with our students identifying a problem, brainstorming solutions, building a working prototype invention, and field-testing the prototype. If this sounds like a process involving patents, it should because the experience is modeled after the United States Patent and Trademark Office’s Project XL!
Invention Convention encourages and teaches creative problem-solving skills, innovative thought processing,and critical thinking skills for elementary students. These are exactly the foundational skills we want our Piqua students to acquire through great opportunities and experiences. While this was our first year, we are extremely proud that a Piqua City Schools student finished second in their grade category and earned a $250 college scholarship! The regional experience for our students also added one more level of opportunity and exposure by traveling to the Cincinnati Museum Center at Union Terminal and experiencing the rich history of the train station! Offering opportunities such as Invention Convention provides a unique experience for our students to extend their skills beyond the classroom.
While some of our students were in Cincinnati on Saturday two other groups of Piqua City School students qualified for State competition and were in Columbus competing! Coming off of a very successful run last year in which one of our Destination Imagination teams qualified for the World competition, once again several of our teams qualified for State!
The Destination Imagination program at Piqua City Schools has been in existence for several years with the goal to develop opportunities that inspire and encourage teams of our students to take risks, and confront challenges while incorporating STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) skills with the arts and service learning while having fun. While focusing on collaborative problem solving our students gain practical skills of patience, flexibility, persistence, ethics, respect for others and their ideas. Another set of great foundational skills we want our students to expand!
Our other group of students competing in Columbus was our high school Science Olympiad team. While Invention Convention and Destination Imagination are both fairly new programming added in recent years at Piqua City Schools, our Science Olympiad program is long-standingranging over several decades of tradition! A Science Olympiad competition consists of 23 team events encompassing the natural phenomena of genetics, earth science, chemistry, anatomy, physics, geology, mechanical engineering and technology. Students are challenged in these disciplines through hands-on participation in problem solving reflecting career world knowledge attainment, problem solving, group learning, and alliance building. Once again, our Science Olympiad students rose to the challenge qualifying for State and competing well!
Another program added at Piqua City Schools during the past two years, The Stock Market Game, follows the model of offering great opportunities and experiences. Offered annually through Wright State University, The Stock Market Game is designed to provide students in the Miami Valley region with a knowledge and understanding of the operations of the stock market as well as the effects the economy has on the stock market. Our eighth grade students have now participated in this program for two years with our seventh grade students joining for the first time this year.
While quality participation is our first priority, I am happy to report that Piqua Junior High School students swept their division in The Stock Market Game with three teams winning first, second and third places.
Education extends well beyond the doors of our classrooms because of our commitment and constant search for academic programming that immerses our students into real world situations through simulations. This immersion helps to develop and challenge the minds and skills of our students in preparation for the world ahead of them! All of these experiences are just a few examples of Piqua City Schools’ understanding that “opportunity matters” on a daily basis for all of our students!
Rick Hanes is the superintendent of the Piqua City School District. Rick continues to ensure that the Piqua City Schools show residents the “Good Schools, Good Value” that they are each day. You can follow him directly on Twitter @raheducator.