Technology Student Association excels in inaugural year

MADISON – In its first year, the Technology Student Association or TSA for Discovery and Liberty middle schools triumphed in numerous categories at the state conference.

Originally organized in 1958, “TSA is a national career and technical student organization or CTSO that supports Career and Technical Education or CTE (nationally),” Liberty Advisor Joy Hearrington said. As part of the CTE program, TSA serves as partnering CTSO to enhance students’ learning in STEM. Liberty had 50-plus participants.

“TSA’s main goal is to give students an opportunity to develop leadership skills and explore STEM careers and opportunities through hands-on projects,” Hearrington said. “TSA’s official mission is to enhance personal development, leadership and career choices in STEM; members integrate these concepts through intra-curricular activities, competitions and related programs.”

“TSA is a requirement of the Career Tech department to retain our accreditation with the state department,” Discovery Advisor Amanda Haynes said. “We had over 70 registered members.”

Haynes and Hearrington both are STEM teachers for CTE studies.

TSA officers for Discovery are President Samuel Bae, Vice President Xavier Williams, Secretary Neel Gowda, Reporter Chloe McKiver, Treasurer Peter Thomasy and Sergeant-at-Arms Logan Rydbom. Liberty’s TSA officers are President Ethan Vandiver, Vice President Cayden Swinford and Secretary/Treasurer Liam Shelley.

In February, Discovery and Liberty TSA members competed in the first annual Madison City TSA Challenge and STEM Fair. “Following the TSA Challenge, Discovery TSA students were thrilled to triumph over Liberty and win the trophy. Discovery plans to pick up the torch from Liberty and host the next challenge,” Haynes said. “Eventually, (we) hope to include Journey Middle School and other schools.”

Students can join TSA with no membership requirements. Taking a STEM classis recommended but not required.

At Liberty TSA meetings, students choose from 37 TSA projects/events and prepare for competition, Hearrington said.

“In Discovery club meetings, students are expected to create a Program of Work to create goals, related tasks and timelines. Our Program of Work included preparations for upcoming competitions, signups for Parent Engagement Nights and creation of a Discovery TSA T-shirt,” Haynes said.

For example, DMS TSA members Jules Mixer and Raul Voltani completed setup and takedown for meetings. Discovery members attend a monthly nighttime meeting for club business.

The annual TSA State Leadership Conference usually convenes in Montgomery. “Liberty had 13 students prepare and compete in over 19 events. We had nine students place in the top three in their state events,” Hearrington said. “Our students had other students around the state encouraging them in competitions.”

Liberty students won several awards:

* CAD Foundations — Joel Yang, second place.

* Career Prep — Harshtha Chander, first. Jake Culligan, third place. (job interview, resume/cover letter).

* Challenging Technology Issues — Epiphany Kendrick and Harshtha Chander, first. Joseph Lee and Joel Yang, second. (debate)

* Cybersecurity – Liam Shelley, first. Cayden Swinford, second. (test)

* Digital Photography — Laya Gowder, third. (portfolio and on-site challenge)

* Essays in Technology — Epiphany Kendrick, second.

* Forensic Technology — Laya Gowder and Harshtha Chander, first. (fingerprint, DNA and document analysis)

* Off the Grid — Joel Yang, third. (sustainable architecture)

Discovery students in places 1-3 at state can advance to National TSA competition:

* Catapult — Ghaida Abdellaoui, Zackary Duclos, Lyra Wilson and Jakin Long, first.

* Coding — Clayton Bruns, Cindy Chen and Logan Rydbom, second.

* Children’s Stories — Emily Krum and Cindy Chen, first; Vedanth Gopinathan and Neel Gowda, third.

* Structural Engineering — John Gabriel Wheelock and Trenton Holcombe, first.

* Flight — Jakin Long, first; Lyra Wilson, third.

“I’ve never started a club before,” Haynes said. “It was a daunting task, but, looking back, it was an incredible year with tons of hours of labor by myself, colleagues and ambitious students.”

“As a STEM-focused CTE teacher, TSA offers opportunities to further expand students’ skills and knowledge,” Hearrington said about serving as sponsor. “Also, they are a great group of students to work with because they enjoy learning and exploring new challenges.”

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