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Morning Sun
  • PSU hosts tech-centric Gorilla Games

  • If ever there were a good example of the range of activities that can be taught under the umbrella of technology, perhaps it could be seen at Pittsburg State’s Gorilla Games on Friday.

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  • If ever there were a good example of the range of activities that can be taught under the umbrella of technology, perhaps it could be seen at Pittsburg State’s Gorilla Games on Friday.
    In one room, airplanes were launched across the room. In another room, towers were being crushed. In another room, students crafted their own trebuchets to hit a bullseye. In a hallway, there were CO2 dragster races. In another room, robots navigated mazes and maneuvered obstacles.
    But organizers were happy to see students not only competing, but having fun on Pittsburg State’s campus.
    “I think this is a really good success. A lot of kids are here,” said Andy Klenke, PSU associate professor of technology and engineering education. “Next year, we’ll grow into the Weede. It’s great to get students on campus and see how their peers are doing. It helps put the students on a path to choosing a career, too.”
    More than 200 students from roughly 15 different schools across two states took part in the Gorilla Games. Next year, Klenke said the goal is to more than double the competition, hopefully bringing in 500 students.
    But on Friday, the students, teachers and organizers still had plenty to keep them excited about technology.
    “This is the first year we’ve come out here,” said Jim Rockers, Southeast High School woods and drafting teacher. “I thought it’d be a great idea and an opportunity to continue our STEM [science, technology, engineering and mathematics] with some competition. We’re getting a little feel for it. Kids get that competitiveness, and they see how they’re going to do.”
    Randy Evans, seventh grade science teacher at Carthage Junior High, watched his three students compete in the problem solving competition, in which students get “a bag and a packet with problems.” Students can only use what’s in the bag to solve the problems. The problem solving contest also requires drawings of what they will build before the students start building.
    “They have to recognize the problem, and think through it. They can see there might not be just one way to solve something,” Evans said. “They’re finding an interest in this sort of thing. As far as a path to a career, this sort of thing helps.”
    Teachers cited the proximity and the facilities as additional benefits of the Pittsburg State contests.  But the Gorilla Games goes beyond just helping the students.
    “We don’t have a program like this at Carthage,” Evans said. “My kids can tell their friends about this. This group can tell others about how much fun they had, and when they tell other kids, we’ll get them on board, too.”
     
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