Wheatland Center students win first for fourth year in row at Northern Illinois STEM Read Experience

/Submitted photo

Wheatland Center School students competing in this school year’s  Northern Illinois STEM Read Experience again won the challenge, azs they had for the last three years.

From a news release from the school:

A team comprised of Wheatland students traveled south and took first place at the Northern Illinois STEM Read Experience. Over 200 students from Chicago-area middle and high schools took part in the challenge. The day’s events included crypto-puzzles, math problems, and a consumer habits challenge. The event featured the modern science fiction classic Feed, which addresses themes including identity crises, consumerism, and star-crossed teenage love in a futuristic society where people connect to the Internet via feeds implanted in their brains. Feed is a smart, savage satire that has captivated readers with its view of an imagined future that veers unnervingly close to the here and now. Students joined experts from NIU and Argonne National Laboratory to play a live-action, STEAM-based game that explores cyber security, psychology and the brain, internet marketing, big data, and digital citizenship. After the game, students got a chance to meet author M.T. Anderson and participate in a Q & A session. Participating students read the book Feed by M.T. Anderson prior to the field trip and the day’s events were connected to the novel. The Wheatland group that was awarded first place during the Feed Market Challenge included Peyton Williamson, Marie Nickolette, Katey Seidl, Kendall Pfrommer, Paige Gaynor, Kianna Weis, Katherine Bubel, and Jaden Lameer-Morefield. During the Feed Tech Marketing Challenge, students had to focus on media and marketing trends to make strategic decisions about purchases “on the moon.” They competed to gain popularity, as measured by followers, based on their purchasing decisions. Buying patterns were assigned value based on the popularity of the fad at the moment in time. Following the initial challenge, groups could gain or lose followers based on their performance and decision-making skills in puzzles and challenges related to digital citizenship, financial literacy, and computational thinking. The team with the most followers remaining after the series of challenges won the game. The end goal was for participants to decide if they would “reconnect with the feed” or resist the lure of advertising and corporate marketing. This is the fourth year in a row that Wheatland students won the challenge. Rachel Hartley, Wheatland Language Arts teacher, connected with NIU several years ago to provide this opportunity for Wheatland students and it has been a favorite for students ever since. She said, “As we work to integrate science and math with the arts, this learning experience uses a contemporary, high interest novel to engage students in a rigorous multi-disciplinary activity. Our students are afforded the opportunity to meet with the author of a novel that they have personally connected with and that is a powerful experience.”

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