TU Hosts 2021 Native American STEM Competition For More Than 1,000 Students

Monday, November 22nd 2021, 2:18 pm
By: Matt Rahn

TULSA, Oklahoma -

Middle and high school students and their teachers were at the University of Tulsa Monday for the 2021 Native American STEM Competition and Teacher Conference.

There were more than 1,000 students on Campus to learn more about science, technology, engineering, and math. One group was at a challenge where they tried to get an egg safely to the ground after being dropped off Chapman Stadium. Some were a success, and some were not. But STEM teacher Janet Johnson says that doesn't matter.

"They learn a lot from it. They learn what they should have done, so they learn as much from failure as they would from success," said Johnson.

She volunteered Monday but had students of her own there as well. She says this event is all about getting kids excited about STEM.

"That's what I love seeing is a student that's not engaged and all of a sudden they figure out hey this is what I want to do, they find their passion and that's what this is really all about, helping them find their passion," Johnson said.

Students from across Northeast Oklahoma, most of which are Native American, did more than just an egg drop.

"We have the slingshot, an egg drop, cryptography challenge, a math challenge, a cars challenge, and a scavenger hunt," said Holland Hall teacher Melissa Sterling.

She helps organize the event every year as says a big part of the competition is exposing students to a future in college.

"As they grow up and they start talking about college, they have this mental image of themselves on a college campus, because we put them all over the classroom and in different situations ... it gives them the idea that ‘I could be here, I could be doing this someday’," Sterling said. 

She says about 250 teachers were also on-campus learning about STEM activities they can bring back to the classroom.

The STEM competition was fully funded by Oklahoma Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research, the National Science Foundation, and The University of Tulsa.