Harker teams win awards at national TEAMS competition

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Roxana Yang

Harker’s first place team poses with their trophy. The competition was held from June 22 to 25.

by Helen Yang, Columnist

Two teams of upper school students won in several categories of the national Test for Engineering Aptitude, Mathematics and Science (TEAMS) competition from June 22 to 25 in Atlanta.

This year, TEAMS proposed “Engineering a Greener World” as the annual theme. The competition challenges middle and high school students to formulate and present their ideas through three main components: first, Prepared Presentation, a proposal for solving traffic problems in a city of choice; second, Problem Solving, a set of 25 college-level math problems coupled with an engineering challenge to build a heat-retaining structure and third, Digital Media, a two-minute video advertising green consulting services.

“One of the biggest challenges we had to face was the amount of time we needed to spend perfecting it. For nationals, we spent hours and hours preparing for the video, and after school ended, we kept meeting over and over again to perfect our presentation,” Rashmi said. “In the process, we learned a lot about how to be more sustainable and environmentally aware.”

Team 1, including juniors Jessica Jiang, Matthew Jin, Sachin Shah, Jasmine Wiese and team captain Jackie Yang, and sophomores Luisa Pan and Russell Yang, won first place in Best in Nation, fifth in Prepared Presentation, first in Problem Solving and fourth in Digital Media under the freshman/sophomore division. Team 2, including juniors Prerana Acharyya, Ellen Guo, Rashmi Iyer, Annabelle Ju, Jason Pan, Bryan Wang and team captain Jin Tuan, and Stanford Online High School sophomore David Smith placed third in Best in Nation and first in Prepared Presentation.

“[TEAMS] is kind of like a creative sandbox. The competition is still growing, so lots of the problems are more open-ended. If you can go and put together team of people with strong chemistry and go do this, you can learn a lot,” Brian said.

In total, over 1,200 competitors from across the nation competed for national titles; in the freshman/sophomore division alone, 54 different teams competed. Aside from being able to build engineering and math skills, students had the opportunity to strengthen their soft skills, including team coordination and open communication, and test their creativity.

“The teamwork aspect was [the hardest part], because there can be up to eight people per team. One time, we couldn’t all agree on one topic to do the presentation on, but eventually, we came up with a topic that satisfied everyone after six or seven hours,” Jackie said.

To participate in the nationals, each team had to first qualify in the state-level competition conducted on Feb. 23 on the upper school campus, which took the theme of “The Engineering Brain” and had a window from Feb. 13 to March 17. Each team used designated materials for a hands-on construction challenge on the day of the competition, solved 80 multiple choice questions in 90 minutes and submitted an in-depth research essay.

The 2019 TEAMS competition will open the state qualification competition window from Feb. 13 to March 17, and the national competition will be held June 28 to July 2 at National Harbor near Washington, D.C.

This piece was originally published in the pages of The Winged Post on Aug. 31, 2018.