PHOENIX, ARIZONA – Alta Loma Christian School’s STEM teams competed at the Association of Christian Schools International—Grand Canyon University International Christian STEM Championships (ACSI GCU ICSC) on Saturday, April 22, in Phoenix, Arizona—going up against mainly high schools—and brought home their third international STEM championship in the past two years.
In the category Software Development: Side Scrolling Game, the collaborative duo of Sathvik and Leilani (team name “Code and Canvas”) earned first place to capture ALCS’ third international STEM championship. They competed almost exclusively against high school students, yet had the greatest margin of victory of any of the ICSC’s eight categories.
“They were absolutely outstanding as they presented their project to the judges,” smiled ALCS head of school, Dr. Vance Nichols, who was with them to witness their live presentation to a panel of computer science professors, software engineers, and University engineering students. “They demonstrated their project and answered questions like they were seasoned professionals. I have never heard two middle school students interact with adults in such an exceptional and engaging way. It was one of the most remarkable things I’ve ever seen students do in 40 years as an educator. To say that the judges were impressed with our students would be a huge understatement. They loved them.”
ALCS had four STEM teams qualify for the international finals in three categories by collecting three first place trophies and a second place trophy at the ACSI GCU Divisional STEM Competition on February 25, hosted by ALCS.
All student teams in every category had to choose and complete a specific STEM challenge that was revealed near the start of the school year, compile a running scientific journal of their work, and make a face-to-face presentation to a panel of judges. This same process was used at both the divisional qualifying event and at the championship finals. (At the championship finals, the Rehabilitation Challenge: Biomedical Engineering teams also had to pass a physical and mechanical stress test on their original biomedical inventions)
ALCS entered a record eight teams in the Divisional Competition. Eagle STEM students shined as four ALCS teams qualified to move on to the finals and a fifth team was selected as an alternate, as ALCS finished in first place in three categories (Rehabilitation Challenge: Biomedical Engineering, “The Valedictorians” – Quinten S., Paizley H., Christa S.; Innovation in Service, “California Compost Center” – Savanah L., Michael M., Owen V., Alexis A.; and Software Development: Side Scrolling Game, “Code & Canvas” – Sathvik K., Leilani D.) and second place in Rehabilitation Challenge: Biomedical Engineering (“Team Exo-Slip” – Sathvik K., Wyatt A., Hudson K.).
At the ACSI GCI STEM ICSC finals in Phoenix, in addition to “Code and Canvas” winning first place in Software Development: Side Scrolling Game, “Team Exo-Slip” finished fourth and “The Valedictorians” finished fifth in Rehabilitation Challenge: Biomedical Engineering; and “California Compost Center” finished fifth in Innovation in Service.
Last year, in the inaugural international STEM competition at GCU, ALCS came home with two international STEM championships, first place in the category Aerospace Gilder and first place in the category IT Coding.
Mrs. Michelle Martinez, ALCS Director of STEM Education, leads the highly successful and nationally-recognized STEM program at ALCS. Dr. Nichols and middle school principal, Ms. Laura Carey-Jedlick, joined Mrs. Martinez as advisors at the championship finals, and were accompanied by ALCS parents, grandparents, and family members traveling with the STEM teams.
“Our students and Mrs. Martinez and her mentor teachers did a remarkable job working with the students on their projects and preparing and helping them qualify for the final championship competition,” said Dr. Nichols. “Our kids demonstrated once again that a faith-based STEM education is a great way to prepare them for real world challenges and to shine. We are incredibly proud of all of our STEM students and their teams. They did a great job.”
The ACSI GCU ICSC event had double the schools and more than double the students—mainly high schoolers—qualify and travel to the championship finals compared to last year, with schools coming from as far away as Massachusetts and Virginia to compete.
“Despite the increased competition against college-prep students, often from much larger schools, our kids did more than hold their own, they excelled,” said Dr. Nichols. “Both in their STEM challenges and in their relating to the adults they interacted with during the competition, our students truly soared. What outstanding kids we have!”
Combining the Divisional and International final results from this school year, ALCS STEM students earned four first place finishes, one second place finish, one third place finish, one fourth place finish, and two fifth place finishes.
“We are incredibly proud of all our STEM students, they really did great,” said Mrs. Martinez. “We learned a lot and got to travel and have a good time together.”
“We have some very special kiddos who all gave their very best effort and it showed,” said Ms. Carey-Jedlick. “The entire school should be proud of them and their accomplishments.”