Technology-loving students thrive on competition

Wes Franklin

Montana Drum, a seventh-grader at Neosho Middle School, knew she liked doing research on the Internet and wanted to learn more about computers and technology.

So when she was old enough to join the Technology Student Association, Montana signed up.

But she never thought it would be this fun.

Montana is now president of the middle school’s TSA, which is part of an international organization for technology students who like to match brains and compete with fun projects.

Every other Tuesday, the group meets after school to work on projects together — projects that might include anything from designing a functional model dragster to studying the causes of and potential cures to cancer.

“We get to work together and you have your friends with you while you’re learning about technology,” Montana said. “It’s really fun.”

But what Montana said she really likes is competition.

There are 12 different categories of competition students might enter. Some, like digital photography, the kids usually take on individually and are done either during or after school. Others, such as problem solving or chapter team — where a group of six or seven conduct a mock meeting following the appropriate rules of order — are presented in front of a panel of judges.

Recently, the middle school TSA team won several first place trophies at a competition in Jay, Okla. Next month, they will do battle at an all-day regional competition at NEO College in Miami, Okla.

And it’s all to better prepare them for the state contest this April at the University of Central Missouri in Warrensburg, Mo., where in the past three years of its existence at the middle school, the TSA team has won a case full of awards.

The team’s adviser, Lottie Ludlum, was instrumental in getting the organization started at the middle school. She had been involved in TSA while a teacher in Oklahoma.

When she came to work at Neosho Middle School 10 years ago, she broached the subject of beginning  a local TSA to principal Nancy Rugh, who was also familiar with the organization.

“I think we talked about it every year until we finally just did it,” Ludlum said, laughing.

La-Z-Boy donated $1,000 that first year to pay the student membership dues, and the school PTO has helped carry it every year since. The students also work concession stands, sell special-order business cards and do various fundraisers throughout the year to pay their way.

“TSA is really good for the students because it allows them to work together,” Ludlum said. “I get a lot of satisfaction out of seeing them win in competition. I like the competition and the students do, too. And they enjoy working together. They just enjoy being together and having that fellowship.”

TSA Competitions

- Chapter Team

- Communication?Challenge

- Graphic Design

- Cyber Space Pursuit

- Digital Photography

- Dragster Design

- Flight Challenge

- Marine Design

- Medical Technology

- Inventions and Innovations

- Problem Solving

- Structural Challenge

Neosho Daily News