NORTHERN VALLEY, NJ — Students from Northern Highlands Regional High School Old Tappan recently took 3rd place in a New Jersey Interscholastic STEM competition.
Seven schools competed in the all-day H2O Clarity Meet -- including the first-place finisher, Northern Valley Demarest.
They move on to an even larger competition hosted by Waldwick High School with Jim Dreschel, one of the founders of the STEM league, on Nov. 11.
Using a variety of materials, the students created a water purification project.
“To provide more outlets for this is a great idea - it's great for those who want to use their hands, be creative, and use design,” said technology teacher Steve Maietta. “The world needs more engineers these days."
Students took time away from classes from 8 a.m. - 2 p.m. and spent the first 90 minutes working with laptops and smartphones to do online research.
The next two to three hours were dedicated to design documentation.
They then tested their creations before a panel of teachers, university professors, professionals, retired engineers, and graduate school students.
They also heard from Watershed Ambassador Michelle Taormino.
Within a year's time, the league has grown from four to 19 teams from area schools. Some schools were large enough to have two teams of five competing against each other in creating water towers.
"They get to see the how what works in the real world, and why,” Maietta said.
Like the other coaches, Maietta helps students but does not directly instruct them during the competition.
“It is very much an 'alive' event," he said. "When you say 'Go!' the folders open up, students are mixing and testing non-stop.
"Even when lunch comes out, they are stuck in their seats working on these projects."