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NSU master’s student takes class to 2016 White House Science Fair

(Tahlequah, Okla.)-- Northeastern State University Master of Education in Teaching student Dr. Geary Don Crofford took four of his Cybercats Robotics Team members to Washington D.C. for the 2016 White House Science Fair on April 12 and 13.

President Barack Obama began hosting the first-ever White House Science Fair in 2010 and this year marked the sixth and final White House Science Fair of his administration. This year’s science fair highlighted ingenuity and entrepreneurship of the next generation of scientists, engineers, mathematicians and innovators. President Obama welcomed more than 100 top science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) students from across the country to the Fair.

Most members of the Cybercats Robotics Team are also a part of a Woodall after-school STEM program which is associated with STARBASE 2.0, a program funded by the U.S. Department of Defense. About the same time that Woodall began its program, the FIRST LEGO League and Oklahoma State Department of Education provided LEGO Mindstorm/Eve3 robotics kits and Cherokee Nation provided VEX Robotics kits to students in the area. The Cybercats Robotics Team, with guidance by Crofford, STARBASE mentors and volunteers like NSU teaching intern and RoboHawks captain James Townsend, began building and programming both autonomous and remote-controlled robots.

Crofford’s students have competed in and taken home trophies at a FIRST LEGO League Robotics Competition, as well as the Vexpo 15 competition hosted by the Cherokee Nation Education Service and NSU College of Education. The team exhibits their STEM classroom knowledge in these robotics competitions by designing and building robots to compete against other robotics teams. In these competitions, they were also evaluated on the basis of their research projects and core values such as teamwork, leadership, attitude and cooperation.

Crofford and four of his students, eighth-grader Benjamin Woolen, seventh-graders Ty Brant and Anthony Maldonado, and sixth-grader Taylor Wingo, were invited to show their hard work at the 2016 White House Science Fair. Crofford and his students packed up their many awards, two of their robots, and a few projects and traveled to meet the President of the United States.

Crofford did not have the chance meet the President, Bill Nye, or Adam Savage, but fortunately his students did. To him, this was one of the best parts of the trip.

“For me, the best part was seeing my students and school be recognized for their excellence, the support of our community, and having basically the entire East Wing of the White House open to us.”

Crofford enjoyed showing his students the world outside of Cherokee county and Oklahoma. He especially enjoyed sharing the message that education and hard work really do pay off.

Published: 5/17/2016 10:01:51 AM

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