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School Scene

Winter 2014

January 2014 - Vol 8, Issue 1
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In This Issue
Leadership, by Sanjay Koduvalli, National TSA President
STEM in Everyday Life, by Sri Nimmagadda, National TSA Vice President
Program of Work, by EB Bollendonk, National TSA Secretary
Networking, by Sai Nimmagadda, National TSA Treasurer
Getting Ready for State Competition, by Hughston May, National TSA Reporter
How to Succeed in Your Competitions, by Melissa Haslebacher, National TSA Seargeant-at-Arms
2014 Verizon Innovative App Challenge Best in State Winners Announced


By Sanjay Koduvalli, National TSA President


A common misunderstanding about leadership is that people often think it involves telling others what to do.  While this method can be effective, it also tends to be slow and stressful for your teammates. When people are simply given directions, they will lack the intrinsic motivation to complete the task.  A good leader not only directs their teammates, but also inspires them to perform.  How do you inspire your team?  Let them contribute to your problem-solving process.

People are motivated to work on a project when they feel completely involved and vital to the team.  The goal of a good leader is to make all members of the team feel significant.  When an entire group solves a problem together, and everyone contributes, all participants will be motivated to perform their duties to the best of their ability.  Suddenly, the assignment will have worked its way up to the top of your teammates' to-do list.  With the proper inspiration, you can get your group to happily work at completing any team project. 

Speaking of leadership, TSA wants to thank DuPont for supporting the national officer program each year.  DuPont is a leader in science and technology and is proud to support TSA members as they participate in competitions and take on leadership roles within their school and state. 

  The 2013-2014 National TSA Officer team is subsidized by DuPont.


DuPont has become one of the most innovative companies in the world because of their foundation of unending scientific inquiry. DuPont delivers science based solutions that make real differences in people's lives around the world in areas such as food and nutrition, health care, apparel, safety and security, construction, electronics and transportation. They are committed to safety and health; environmental stewardship; high ethical behavior; and respect for people.

Thank you, DuPont, for your support of this year's national officer team.


STEM in Everyday Life

By Sri Nimmagadda, National TSA Vice President 


With the school year (and TSA activities) well under way, it is a good time to think about the principles of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).  After all, our entire organization is centered on the application of these concepts.  Many students don't realize the importance of STEM outside of industry.  The fact of the matter is that STEM is not only applicable in the workforce but in everyday life, as well.  STEM is a perspective and a way of thinking.


At the root of those core subjects is the fundamental application of logic and reasoning.  Mathematics is simply visual logic; we use numbers to quantify and visualize our world and its intricacies.  Science is based on observation and applying our critical reasoning skills to show how our world works and to explain why it works.  Engineering is problem-solving with an application in mind; that application is technology that will enhance our lives.


So even if you don't want to be an engineer, doctor, or STEM professional, you should still remember that STEM is infinitely applicable in everyday life.  We use logic and reasoning to make decisions that are important to us.  In solving problems and issues with our friends and family, we "engineer" our social systems.  And technology is indubitably the glue of our connected lives with Facebook, Twitter, and other social media platforms.


So the next time you are in math or science class and wonder why any of the things you're learning are important, remember that STEM is the backbone of the progressive society we live in and will shape many of our decisions in our lives from here on out.  All learning is valuable and, more importantly, applicable every day.



Program of Work

By EB Bollendonk, National TSA Secretary


I am excited to have this opportunity to share what your national officers have been working on throughout the year.  When the six officers first met, we created a special plan of work tailored to enhance TSA.  We factored in suggestions that we heard at the 2013 national TSA conference in Orlando, Florida, such as the need for more interaction between members to create a more cohesive TSA spirit.  We also heard that as members, you would like for TSA to have more recognition. 


The program of work that we developed focuses on improving TSA for its membership.  First, we were all very excited to introduce #myTSAstory.  The purpose of #myTSAstory is to encourage TSA members to share their personal and inspirational TSA experiences.   The use of hashtags allows these stories to be available to other TSA members.   Via the hashtag, you can read about the positive impact TSA has made on other members' lives.  We hope to select our favorite stories and share them at the 2014 national TSA conference.   To learn more about #my TSAstory, watch the video on our website,  Additionally, we are working with TSA's social media intern, Gus White, to make our Facebook page more active.


Also included in our program of work is the Community Outreach Toolkit.  This toolkit contains a letter, brochure, and poster for your state officers to distribute to local businesses, organizations, and educational systems.  These items contain information about TSA and an optional invitation to state conferences.  The toolkit is intended to inform local companies, colleges and universities about the benefits and potential of TSA in the community.


Additionally, we have been advising national TSA on the national service project and the national TSA Alumni Association.


As a team, we are very excited about the upcoming 2014 national TSA conference at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center in National Harbor, Maryland (near Washington D.C.), June 27-July 1, 2014, and hope that you are excited, as well.  We are creating a promotional video about the upcoming conference that will be available to state delegations when it is completed.


We hope that our hard work will help lay the foundation for a stronger and more successful TSA!




By Sai Nimmagadda, National TSA Treasurer


Competition season has arrived! In the coming weeks, TSA state delegations across the country will be holding regional and state conferences. These conferences offer TSA members a wonderful way to network, make connections, and find opportunities.  Fellow TSA members and alumni are great resources to help us learn to live in a technical world.


Networking poses a very practical source of success for TSA members. Members who seek information and advice on how to be more successful in competitions can turn to competitors. For example, a first-time Digital Video Production team's members can talk to members of a more seasoned team to get tips on filming techniques and production of the documentation. For projects like Biotechnology Design or Architectural Renovation, meeting the people behind the innovative projects on display can be an invaluable learning experience.


Networking at conferences can also open the door to opportunities down the road, such as internship opportunities, college admissions advice, career preparation, and much more. Additionally, networking can provide TSA members with friendships that transcend boundaries of school or location. Many members look forward to TSA conferences to catch up with old friends and make new ones.


The ability to network is a skill that is invaluable throughout life.  As a TSA member, get a head start.  Don't be afraid to socialize and meet new people at your next TSA conference.  The opportunities that could be realized are endless!



Getting Ready for State Competition

By Hughston May, National TSA Reporter  


As you all know, now is the time to start diligently working on and finalizing projects for upcoming state and regional conferences.  It can be a very stressful time depending on the number of competitions you are involved in.  With that in mind, I have a few tips to help you prepare to compete and have an unforgettable experience.


First, as much time as you may think you have, do not procrastinate!  Many of us share this problem.  You want to be sure to get your projects done as soon as possible so you will have adequate time to check over all of the guidelines and requirements.  It would be such a disappointment to be disqualified from competition after working so hard simply because directions were not followed.  Take the time to make a checklist of requirements for your competition to assure that you leave nothing out.


Also, be sure to have a back-up plan.  Make sure you bring all the tools and  equipment you may need to repair your project if something goes wrong.  This emergency kit could include extra batteries and/or chargers, staples, glue, or any other items that may be helpful. 


Another thing to remember is to practice, practice, practice.  Depending on the nature of your competition, you will want to be completely comfortable during your presentation.  The more you rehearse, the more comfortable you will be during competition.  


Finally, remember to have fun while your are competing!


I hope you will remember these tips as you prepare for your competitions.  For many, this is your first state competition.  For others, this may be your final state conference and you want to make it memorable.  Regardless, make it an unforgettable experience!



How to Succeed In Your Competitions

By Melissa Haslebacher, National TSA Sergeant-at-Arms


It's competition time and we are all working diligently on each of our projects, hoping to come home with that first place trophy.  Here are some tips to help you achieve your goals.   


1)  Read and understand the rubric for your event.  Everyone interprets information differently, including the judges of competitions.  The only way to make sure your interpretation of the rules is the same as the judges' interpretation is to fully understand the scoring rubric.  Additionally, it might even clear up questions you have from just reading the rules.  

2)  Dress for success.  If you read the rubric then you'll know that the majority of TSA competitions have a graded section for your appearance, especially speech based competitions.  Make sure your TSA attire is wrinkle free, well-fitted, and clean.  Ladies, pull your hair up out of your face.  Don't forget to smile and be confident.  A confident and professional presentation will impress the judges. 

3)  Know your information.  By knowing your information, REALLY knowing it, you will have a strong and knowledgeable presentation. 

Finally, have fun with it!  Be sure to pick a competition that you will enjoy, and your enthusiasm will be reflected in your work.

Best of luck to everyone!

2014 Verizon Innovative App Challenge Best in State Winners Announced


For the second year, TSA partnered with the Verizon Foundation to offer the Verizon Innovative App Challenge, a national competition for middle and high school students. Working with an advisor, teams of students used STEM skills, knowledge, ingenuity and creativity to develop and submit an original mobile app concept that addresses a real need or problem in their school or community.


School teams submitted their design concepts online through a video presentation and an essay. "Best in State" teams have been announced and include schools with active TSA chapters.Visit to view middle and high school winners by state. Best in State winners will compete to become "Best in Region" and ultimately "Best in Nation."Eight Best in Nation schools each receive up to $20,000 for STEM education; a Samsung Galaxy Tab for each team member; and support in bringing their apps to the marketplace. Team representatives and one chaperone from the eight "Best in Nation" schools will be invited to present their winning apps at the 2014 national TSA conference in Washington DC in June.



The Technology Student Association fosters personal growth, leadership, and opportunities in technology, innovation, design, and engineering. Members apply and integrate science, technology, engineering, and mathematics concepts through co-curricular activities, competitive events, and related programs.
School Scene (ISSN 1066-341X) is published three times a year by the Technology Student Association, 1914 Association Drive, Reston, VA 20191-1540. Telephone: 703-860-9000; Fax: 703-758-4852. Web site:
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