The Aero Games is a competition for middle and high school students to participate in hands-on STEM-related activities.
In an effort to promote science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education, Google and RSU have come together to offer a fun, interactive learning experience for Oklahoma students at no cost to schools. Twenty-three teams from 17 area schools are scheduled to compete in the Aero Games. High school teams will compete in four events: Remote Control Quad Copters; Paper Roller Coasters; Stomp Rockets for Distance; and Stomp Rockets for Accuracy. Junior high school teams will also compete in four events: Paper AERO planes; Marshmallow Catapults; Remote Control Quad Copters; and Boats. The games will be judged by Googlers and other volunteers using objective criteria such as time, speed, distance, and accuracy.
Special awards will be given for engineering and team spirit. One 2016 graduating senior student will also receive a $1,000 scholarship/tuition waiver.
“Anytime the community can give young people the opportunity showcase their skills and further their educational experience, that’s a great thing. At Google, we are committed to motivating students to participate and excel in STEM and applying those principles to exciting and engaging career paths. The Aero Games provides an excellent avenue for doing just that.” said Mike Wooten, operations manager for the Google Oklahoma data center in Mayes County.
Since the opening of Google’s Oklahoma data center in 2011, it has awarded more than $750,000 in grants related to STEM education in northeast Oklahoma including funding laptop labs and robotics programs.
The Aero Games will close with keynote speaker, NASA’s Tracy Drain, a flight systems engineer with the Jet Propulsion Lab (JPL). In her 15 years at JPL, she has participated in the development and operation of the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (now in orbit at Mars), Kepler (now searching for new Exoplanets), and Juno (currently on its way to Jupiter, slated to arrive in July 2016). In parallel with her ongoing work on Juno operations, she is also the supervisor for the Flight System Systems Engineering Group, providing guidance and oversight to other engineers who support a variety of JPL missions. Drain will address students at 2 p.m. in the auditorium.
“Recent studies show that more than 60 percent of jobs created in Oklahoma during the next five years will require college education, and efforts to increase interest in STEM-related fields today will be crucial to Oklahoma’s economic vitality tomorrow,” said RSU President Dr. Larry Rice. “Our continued partnership with Google for Aero Games helps connect middle and high school students with important STEM concepts in a fun and stimulating way that encourages their continued studies in these fields.”
This will be the second year for the event to be held at RSU’s Pryor campus at 2155 Highway 69A in the MidAmerica Industrial Park and near Google’s data center.
Opening ceremonies will begin at 8:15 a.m. in the RSU Pryor auditorium. The public is invited to view the competitions throughout the morning, but the opening and closing ceremonies will be limited to participants only.