Montverde Academy’s STEM program places an emphasis on the pursuit of scientific exploration by utilizing the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math.  Experimentation and self-discovery: These are the two key elements of STEM examinations.  Mr.  Matthew Parets, Upper School Computer Science teacher, informed that last semester STEM students did just that when they were presented with a simple challenge – to build a tower. The materials? Spaghetti and marshmallows.

“As the weeks progressed the groups of students tried different tactics in an attempt to build higher and higher.  As new techniques were tried it was quickly discovered that there is a reason that triangles are so commonly seen in construction. This basic shape can support a lot of force without breaking, while leaving room for creativity of design.  Once towers topped more than a meter the materials where changed up to increase the challenge.  Marshmallows were replaced by simple tape. Noodles were replaced by paper. This spring, STEM students will take their building skills and use them to construct bridges.  A competition where the materials are balsa wood and glue,” stated Mr. Parets.

Every year, MVA seniors in the STEM Study Area Concentration (SAC) program take part in their Senior STEM Research Seminars – where students find a problem of interest and then produce a unique hypothesis they will answer over the course of a semester.  Using the scientific method, they each create and perform an experiment to support their answer to the hypothesis.  The project culminates in presenting their results to the public.  

This school year, for example, student, Xintong (Dylan) Deng focused on the affect that a nose cone has on the maximum height a rocket can achieve.  After putting together the experiment and purchasing the materials,  Dylan spent three days after school performing 16 launches.  For each trial the length of the rocket’s nose cone changed to help Dylan prove his hypothesis.  Dylan and other senior STEM members successfully presented their projects earlier this semester.

Xintong (Dylan) Deng