Press Release | Chris O'Donnell, Salem Public Schools Press Release

Collins Middle School Students Win PLTW Division at One8 Applied Learning Showcase

Check out this article about Collins Middle School in Salem’s winning experience at the One8 Applied Learning Student Showcase!

By Chris O’Donnell

Salem Public Schools Press Release

Posted on May 16, 2024

SALEM (May 16, 2024) – Collins Middle School seventh-grade robotics students Amelia Meegan and Sam Vietzke captured the Middle School Project Lead the Way (PLTW) Division at the One8 Applied Learning Showcase Friday, May 10, at the TRACK at New Balance.

The feat was especially meaningful since CMS’s entry into the One8 Showcase, spearheaded by STEM educator/Robotics Club advisor Greg Beach, was its first-ever appearance.

“I just thought it was important that we showed up,” said Mr. Beach. “The process of building, doing the work and showing up was reward enough. I’m not surprised (that we won) because we have so many great students and projects in this school.”

The One8 Showcase, which encompassed more than 300 schools, is a year-end student STEM showcase for Project Lead The Way, OpenSciEd, PBLWorks, and ST Math schools in Massachusetts for students in grades 5-12. Students shared their applied learning projects with industry professionals and had an opportunity to present to an authentic audience.

Student teams each had a table and display board  on which they described their projects as industry professionals circulated and engaged students, offering verbal and written feedback.

With the achievement, Mr. Beach’s robotics students received commemorative One8 Showcase jackets as well as an invitation to the Philips Research Institute in Cambridge for a field trip.

Ms. Meegan and Mr. Vietzke presented their robot MrukBot 9000, named after their beloved assistant principal Shamus Mruk, which was capable of 360 turns and was equipped with a bluetooth speaker, comically playing loops of Mr. Mruk’s favorite lines:

  • ‘What are you doing here?’
  • ‘Are you supposed to be here?’
  • ‘Where’s your pass?’
  • ‘Get back to class!’

According to Mr. Vietzke, Ms. Meegan builds while he codes. “It took me about two days to code,” he said. “We know there were going to be other robots, but we were actually one of very few.”

Success at the One8 Showcase has inspired the two to keep tweaking the MrukBot 9000. “Our next step is to put a camera on it so we can watch a live feed, basically making it a Roomba,” said Ms. Meegan.

“We want to install an AI vision sensor,” Mr. Vietzke added, something Mr. Beach plans to introduce to his robotics class and the after-school Robotics Club.

Notable, said Mr. Beach, was the team dynamic between Ms. Meegan and Mr. Vietzke. They are both drama students, which was key in their presentation. “I think that helped them,” Mr. Beach said.

Seventh-grader Edwart Castillo Mesa also attended the One8 Showcase to present his robot, EndGame Chupacabra 3.1, named after the mythical Mexican creature, which he built to battle other robots.

Mr. Castillo Mesa’s robot earned terrific feedback from several industry professionals in attendance and he has designs on a new project for the 2025 One8 Showcase: a robot to locate lost hikers.

“I want to build something that can actually help people,” he said.

The achievement by Mr. Beach’s students is mindful of the core priorities of the District’s Strategic Plan, particularly elevating learning and empowering educators.

“The team dynamic and the way they united to work together, the students are really enjoying it,” Mr. Beach said.

About Salem Public Schools

Salem Public Schools is an urban public school district in Salem, Massachusetts. Salem is a small, diverse city with a proud maritime and immigrant history. Our leaders and our teachers are all passionate about education and understand the urgency of improving student achievement with equity and social-emotional needs as the lens we view all of our work through. We respect and value the racial, cultural, and linguistic diversity of our students and their families, and have a strong commitment to the Salem community. Salem Public Schools staff serve all of our students, regardless of ability or language. Salem Public Schools enrolls approximately 4,000 students across its eleven schools.

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