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PSU hosts STEM education 'Olympics'

Nearly 500 high school students from throughout the region participated in the third annual Great Gorilla Games on April 12.

Nearly 500 high school students from throughout the region participated in the third annual Great Gorilla Games on April 12.

Aimed at promoting science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education, the Great Gorilla Games features a variety of contests, challenges and exhibits that present a “unique educational opportunity” for the students. The event is one of the university's largest technology-related competitions. 

 “We like to think of it as the STEM Olympics,” said Mike Neden, associate professor in the Department of Technology and Workforce Learning and key organizer of the Great Gorilla Games. “There are many different challenges that are focused around STEM concepts.”

Various formats for challenges are included in the Great Gorilla Games, such as individual, team-based, and group competitions and challenges, as well as static displays and exhibits. The advanced challenges feature specific elements that focus on the integration of STEM concepts in projects and activities that bring “meaning and relevance to STEM education.”

Challenges range from building rubber-band-powered dragsters and airplanes to designing and building an autonomous robot. Students will also compete in graphic design, problem solving and rocketry competitions.

“This event is a lot of fun, but it’s also incredibly educational in terms of those STEM concepts that are so important to a student’s educational experience,” Neden said.

Technology Showcase sessions at the Kansas Technology Center highlighted PSU’s College of Technology and its various programs. They were available for students to visit when they’re not competing.

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