WINTERPORT — YouTube is a part of many middle-school students’ lives.
But for an industrious group of students from Wagner Middle School, the Internet video channel has served as a conduit to a figurative trip to space.
Tamara Cardello’s seventh-grade “White” science class has been named the Bangor-area winner of $1,000 in S.W. Cole Engineering’s “Dig Into Science” competition. Those students found out Dec. 7 during an assembly that included a surprise check presentation from David Dunning to Cardello. Dunning is a vice present and senior environmental scientist for S.W. Cole Engineering.
The money will be part of the funds necessary to take Wagner’s sixth- and seventh-graders to the Challenger Learning Center in Bangor, where they will take part in a simulated shuttle mission.
In its first year, the “Dig Into Science” competition seeks to promote science and engineering educational programs. As Dunning told students at the assembly, “You are the future scientists and engineers, and we hope you’ll consider careers in those fields.”
All told, there will be $1,000 awards in the six areas which Cole serves, to be used to attend a pre-approved extra-curricular program related to the burgeoning field of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) education.
In the competition, classes had to answer the question “How does science and technology affect your daily life?” by completing an application and uploading a video to Cole’s YouTube site.
Dunning explained that there were 47 entries, five from the Wagner Middle School alone. These were judged, based on their answers and their creativity, by him, a Cole staffer with marketing experience in New Hampshire, and the company’s six office managers.
Wagner Principal Richard Glencross was a silent co-conspirator in the surprise presentation, as he projected the school’s video entries following that day’s lunch. Then he introduced Dunning, who entered the cafeteria with the shrouded check and then talked about the competition. Then Cardello was called onto the stage to accept the award. She quickly summoned up the 19 members of the seventh-grade “White” science class as well.
The winning video features several students answering the posed question, as well as students singing an original song written by Daija Misler, who plays guitar as well in the video.
Cardello estimated that it took a week and a half of class time to create 30 to 45 minutes of video, which were edited down to the final one-minute version.
“The kids had to learn who the audience was and about S.W. Cole, how to answer the question in writing, what it meant, how to operate a camera, and how to edit,” she explained.
Skills learned in making the video will serve her students well, Cardello said.
“The teamwork they used to make this video will help them when they go to Challenger,” she said. “They’ve learned to work together and to share ideas.”
The $1,000 will go toward the school’s goal of having all the sixth- and seventh-graders attend Challenger. The next step is determining future fundraisers for the effort.
Cardello said that such funding makes possible needed extra-curricular programs such as Challenger.
“We wouldn’t have gone without this money,” she said. “The school focus is on math and reading, with science taking a back seat, but these are the jobs that they are going to be looking at when they graduate.”
Susan Jonason, executive director of Challenger, praised S.W. Cole Engineering for its efforts to promote STEM education.
“Companies need a workforce with skills in math and science to meet future demands, and if students aren’t inspired while they are in school, they will be less likely to pursue those kinds of careers,” Jonason said.
“Companies like S.W. Cole understand that a hands-on learning experience like Challenger connects the dots for students. Through applying their skills and knowledge in our simulation, they succeed in accomplishing a space science mission at Challenger … performing real jobs that are vital to the team’s success,” she said.
“They love it … and they picture doing something like this for a career. Challenger primes the pump for S.W. Cole’s future employees and leaders. By supporting Challenger, they are helping to secure their company’s future, and enriching many young lives in the process,” Jonason said.