Sunday, February 9, 2014

Build a Better Mousetrap Car!

Seminole Ridge during the second run of their mousetrap powered vehicle at the February 8, 2014
SECME Engineering Olympiad on Saturday, February 8, 2014.
DISTANCE: 2100 centimeters
TIME: 19.8 seconds

Monday, November 11, 2013

Math-elites Win 2nd 4th Place at PBAU

Seminole Ridge students had a fourth-place finish at the annual Palm Beach Atlantic University high school mathematics and computer science competition on Saturday, November 09, 2013. Teams of teenagers from across Martin and Palm Beach County attended the calculating contest, from Port St. Lucie Centennial to Spanish River were among the scores of students solving real-world problems. And for the second consecutive year, the Hawks finished in the top tier.

The team members lead by Captain Sam Smith are math whizzes from the school’s SECME engineering and MAθ (Mu Alpha Theta) math honor society. During the competition, students solved three sets of paper and pencil problems in algebra, trigonometry, statistics, probability, and pre-calculus problems using Texas Instruments graphing calculators.

The team from Suncoast High School in Riviera Beach was declared champion of the 3-hour competition Coach Kay Mathews, science teacher for Biology, is proud of the Hawks' honorable mention.

Volunteering at the PBAU math competition are former Seminole SECME students and recent graduates Andrea Olave and Priscilla Cerqueira

Thursday, July 18, 2013

SECME annual themes

2013-2014 SECME: Going Out On A S.T.E.M.

2012-2013 THINK it’s imPOSSIBLE? THINK sySTEMatically. THINK SECME! 
2011-2012 SECME: Plan It - Build It - Live It
2010-2011 SECME: STEMulating Minds

2009-2010 SECME: Igniting Minds Through STEM Education

2008-2009 SECME: Thinking Out of the Box

2007-2008 SECME: Lighting the Torch To Empower Future Leaders

2006-2007 SECME: A Launch Pad for the Next Generation of Explorers

2005-2006 SECME: Changing the World, One Student At A Time

2004-2005 SECME: 2lst Century Pioneers—Dreaming Today To Discover Tomorrow

2003-2004 SECME: The Global Road Map to Success

2002-2003 SECME: Vehicle of the Future – Engineered for Success

2001-2002 SECME: Equation for a Better World

2000-2001 SECME: Bridging the Technical Divide

1999-2000 SECME: Leveraging Partnership to Ensure Technical Talent for the New Millennium

1996–1997 SECME: Science, Mathematics, Engineering and Technology – Using the Past and Present to Building a Better Future

1995–1996 SECME: Entering the New Millennium Through Science and Engineering

Wednesday, May 29, 2013


Dawn DeWitt, Science Teacher, and SECME Coordinator and Department Instructional Leader at Palm Springs Middle School has been named the 2013 SECME National Teacher of the Year. Each year SECME, Inc. (formerly the Southeastern Consortium for Minorities in Engineering) recognizes outstanding K-12 educators who have demonstrated leadership ability in advancing student development and outcomes in the areas of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. 
Bruce Wear (SECME Coordinator SDPBC), Dawn DeWitt (SECME Teacher of the Year), Michele Williams (Executive Director, SECME National), Sandra Jinks (Principal, Palm Springs Middle School) Back row; Charles Tharp (Ms. DeWitt’s husband and engineering volunteer)
In honoring Ms. DeWitt, SECME noted,”The SECME National 2013 Teacher of the Year demonstrated exemplary accomplishments in building and sustaining a successful SECME school program through creative and enriching curricular and extracurricular activities, thereby increasing the number of historically under-represented students who are interested in, and academically prepared for, studies in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM).”
Bruce L. Wear, Palm Beach County District STEM/SECME Coordinator wrote in his nomination letter, “In her capacity as a SECME Coordinator, I have seen Ms. DeWitt work tirelessly with her own students spending countless hours after school and even on Saturdays leading them towards excellence.  She constantly shares her knowledge and experience with others on a frequent basis.  She runs several of our Saturday Mousetrap and Bridge/Truss Seminars for the benefit of other members of our SECME “family”.  Dawn brings not only her enthusiasm but also her deep felt desire to raise all students problem solving abilities.”
Richard McCombs from Statesboro High School in Georgia was named SECME Co-Teacher of the Year with Ms. DeWitt.  The 2013 SECME National Co-Teachers of the Year will be recognized on June 22 at an “Evening of Elegance” celebration sponsored by the ExxonMobil Foundation to be held during the 37th Annual SECME Summer Institute, hosted this year by Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, Florida, from June 16-23, 2013
For more information please contact Bruce Wear at

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

First African-American In Space Marks 30th Anniversary Of Flight


When NASA's Space Shuttle Challenger lifted off on August 30, 1983, one 
crewmember chuckled with excitement all the way into space, and he 
made history along the way. 

Thirty years later, Guion S. "Guy" Bluford's memories of his historic 
flight (STS-8) are just as vivid as they were on that summer night. 
It was the first Space Shuttle launch and landing at night and the 
first time an African-American flew into space. 

"It was around midnight and it was raining," Bluford recalls today. 
"We came down the elevator, heading to 'the bird,' what we called the 
Shuttle, and all these people were standing there cheering us on. 
When the clock counted down and we took off, I just laughed, it was 
so much fun," he said. 

Though his achievement instantly thrust him into the spotlight as a 
role model for young African-Americans, Bluford says his goal was 
never to be the first African-American in space. "I recognized the 
importance of it, but I didn't want to be a distraction for my crew," 
he said. "We were all contributing to history and to our continued 
exploration of space." 

Instead, Bluford says his goal was "to make others feel comfortable" 
with African-Americans in space. 

"I felt I had to do the best job I could for people like the Tuskegee 
Airmen, who paved the way for me, but also to give other people the 
opportunity to follow in my footsteps," Bluford said. The Tuskegee 
Airmen made history as the first black flying squadron in World War 

Bluford's interest in flying dates back to his days in junior high 
school, making model airplanes and wanting to learn more about jet 
and rocket engines. Though he wanted to become an aerospace engineer, 
he became an Air Force fighter pilot in 1966, eventually flying 
combat missions over Vietnam. When he returned from the war, Bluford 
began teaching others to fly, but soon decided he was ready to learn 
more about flying at a much higher altitude. 

In 1977 he applied to NASA to become an astronaut. A year later, he 
was selected for the program, along with two other African-Americans, 
Fred Gregory and Ronald McNair. But it wasn't until 1982, in a 
meeting with George Abbey, then director of flight crew operations at 
NASA's Johnson Space Center (JSC), that Bluford realized he was 
headed to space. 

"Dale Gardner, Dan Brandenstein, Dick Truly and I were all sitting in 
Abbey's office," he recalls. "Abbey said, 'I'm looking for a crew for 
STS-8, and I was wondering if you were interested?' It was quite a 

Before the flight, NASA kept Bluford out of the news media spotlight, 
so he could focus on his mission. It also helped; much of the 
attention was still focused on Sally Ride, who had just made history 
on the previous Shuttle flight as the first American woman in space. 

Bluford and the crew of STS-8, including fifth crewmember Bill 
Thornton, trained at JSC for 15 months, before heading to Kennedy 
Space Center, Fla., for their rainy launch early on Aug. 30. 

With the cockpit dark, Bluford recalls fellow astronaut Shannon Lucid, 
who would fly on five future Shuttle missions, strapping him into his 
seat between Brandenstein, the pilot, and Shuttle Commander Truly. 
The clock counted down, and the Challenger lifted off. Over the next 
six days, Bluford and the crew deployed INSAT-1B, a multipurpose 
Indian satellite, and they conducted medical measurements to 
understand the effects of space flight on the human body.

The one thing he didn't have to worry about was his appetite. "We had 
little sandwiches tied to our seats, and when we got on orbit a 
couple of crewmembers weren't feeling well as they adapted to space, 
so they passed on lunch," Bluford said. "I felt fine. I not only ate 
my lunch, but part of theirs, too," he said. 

Following Challenger's successful early morning landing at 12:30 a.m., 
Sept. 5, 1983, Bluford went on a three-month national speaking tour, 
thanking the public for supporting him, the crew of STS-8 and the 
Shuttle program. He was a crewmember on three more Shuttle missions, 
STS-61A, STS-39 and STS-53, before retiring from the Astronaut Corps 
in 1993. "I was very lucky to have had four successful missions," 
Bluford said. "When you went out to the pad with me, everything 
pretty much went as planned." 

For more information about Guy Bluford, on the Internet, visit:

Monday, May 20, 2013


West Palm Beach, Fla., May 17, 2013 — Two SECME coordinators, Kris Swanson from Poinciana Elementary, and Chris Perry from Atlantic High, and their two teammates have been selected by NASA to build an experiment that they will conduct with their students this spring, and then fly on NASA’s Microgravity Aircraft this summer.

Kris Swanson, Lisa Saunders, Vicki Spitalnick, and Jenn Andrews from Poinciana Elementary STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) Magnet School, and Chris Perry from Atlantic will spend ten days at the NASA Johnson Space Center in Houston, TX, this July to undergo training and learn more about microgravity and its effects on spacecraft and astronauts. At the end of the week, the teachers will take turns flying on the Microgravity trainer and conducting the experiment.

The experiment is titled “How Is Convection Affected By Microgravity?” It will utilize a small tank with heaters and coolers attached to it that will create a stable convection cell within it, and record the motion of the cell using video and temperature sensors. Students at Poinciana and Atlantic will run the experiment numerous times this spring in 1g, and hypothesize how convection may occur differently at 0g and 2g. This July, the teachers will repeat the student’s experiments in a reduced gravity aircraft, also known as the “Weightless Wonder.” Imagine the student’s excitement at their teachers floating for brief periods of weightlessness and microgravity.

Poinciana STEM Magnet school allows the students the opportunity to develop, create and hypothesize about hands-on experiments analyzing and sharing the results with other students to enhance the overall learning experience. The science program at Atlantic High is part of an International Baccalaureate magnet with a very strong emphasis on science, math, and technology. Students are not permitted to repeat the experiment on the reduced gravity flight themselves, but their teachers will bring back video and still pictures to help share their flight experiences as well as the matching data of 0g and 2g convection for the students to learn from.

Not only has this experience brought out the interest and curiosity of the students and teachers, but a group of engineers from several local companies and FAU have volunteered to assist with the coding, programming and building of the data recorder and the construction of the tank for the experiment. The engineers include Gabriel Goldstein from Anidea Engineering in Wellington, Ben Aiken, Adam Gresh, Ben Rigas, and Luis Moss from Modernizing Medicine in Boca Raton, Mahesh Neelakanta from FAU College of Engineering.

You can follow the team’s progress as they build the experiment, conduct it in 1g with their students, and fly it in microgravity this summer through their website The team is looking for sponsors to fund the building of their device and the travel expenses for the teachers’ trips to Houston this summer.

If you would like to contribute, checks can be made out to Poinciana Elementary School, 1203 N. Seacrest Blvd Boynton Beach, Fl 33435…. Memo Microgravity Team. Sponsors names and/or logos will be placed on the website and the banner which will fly in the “Weightless Wonder” aircraft this summer.

For more information, contact Lisa Lee at or call 561-739-5700.

About The School District of Palm Beach County

The School District of Palm Beach County is the eleventh largest in the nation and the fifth largest in the state of Florida with 185 schools, serving more than 177,000 students who speak 150 languages and dialects. As the largest employer in Palm Beach County, the School District has nearly 21,000 associates, including 12,627 teachers. To learn more about The School District of Palm Beach County, please

Friday, May 17, 2013

NASA KSC Lunabotics Mining Competition STEM College Recruitment Fair

College Recruitment Fair for High School Sophomores, Juniors, and Seniors

High school sophomores, juniors, and seniors are invited to participate in the Lunabotics College Recruitment Fair at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex. NASA is hosting a college recruitment event focused on connecting high school sophomores, juniors and seniors with Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) education opportunities available at top colleges and universities across the nation. In addition, NASA scientists and engineers will be available to answer questions about specific majors and technical career paths. Click here to register for the Lunabotics College Recruitment Fair.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

In a dream you can cheat architecture into impossible shapes. That let's you create closed loops, like the Penrose steps. The infinite staircase.

Search for the Escherian Stairwell at Imagine RIT
Student film director hopes to inspire awe about the myths of RIT

Is it possible for a staircase to violate the laws of physics and basic logic by looping back into itself? This is one of the questions Michael Lacanilao, a film and animation graduate student at RIT, examines in his video series and Imagine RIT exhibit The Escherian Stairwell.

Lacanilao created the video series, “Can You Imagine,” to highlight the many interesting facts, stories and myths of RIT. The exhibit, located in Artistic Alley in Gannett Hall room A171, will help festivalgoers search for the stairwell and give them a behind the scenes look at “Can You Imagine.”

“Four years can go by quickly and a lot of us don’t have the time to learn about all the things that RIT does and offers,” says Lacanilao. “When we take the time to venture outside our daily routines, we find that it really is the place where the left brain and right brain collide. I’m proud to be a part of that.”

To watch the third episode of “Can You Imagine,” which spotlights the Escherian Stairwell, go to

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Rocketeers Advance to Nationals

At its May 15 meeting the school board recognized Seminole Ridge SECME as overall champions in the 2013 district Olympiad model rocketry contest. Team Osprey now advances to the SECME national competition next month at Embry-Riddle College of Engineering in Daytona Beach. Congrats!

(Photo, L-R: brothers Nick Smith and Sam Smith, Kim Smith [no relation] with championship certificate.)