TEAMS Road to Success

The room was packed. Hundreds of high schoolers from all across the country were working eagerly, either on a set of math problems or on designing a building that conserved heat for a battery.

Philena Liu ’20 stared intently at her set of questions, biting her pencil. As she bubbled in her answers, she heard the five minute warning and started working frantically.

The annual Tests of Engineering Aptitude, Mathematics, and Science (TEAMS) national competition was held from June 22nd to June 25th in Atlanta, Georgia. Stevenson qualified two teams in the 9/10 division and two teams in the 11/12 division.

The national competition consisted of three parts: problem solving (build and math multiple choice), video and presentation. This year, the build prompt required teams to construct a house that retained heat over a period of time. The video focused on sustainable buildings and infrastructure, and the presentation was regarding a proposal to reduce traffic and congestion.

Three out of the four teams that qualified from Stevenson placed in top ten at least once, either overall or in one of the categories.

Liu, a member of 9/10 Team A, was not expecting her team to place top ten overall and was pleasantly surprised. She said that it was a proud moment for everyone.

“When I went to TEAMS for nationals last year, we worked hard but it was just difficult for us to compete on the same level for other teams since we were completely new,” Liu said. “It was still a high level this year, so just improving so much from last year made me really proud.”

On the other hand, 11/12 Team A member Jacob Minin ’19 said that he knew that if his team stayed level-headed they could perform well, although they didn’t know for sure what was going to happen in competition. He was proud of his team when the results came out.

“We knew that our video was pretty good, and we knew that potentially we would do very well with problem solving,” Minin said. “We went in with high hopes, but it’s always good to see the results.”

But for all competitors, lessons were learned that had nothing to do with placing. 9/10 Team B had strong cooperation, which was critical for them to perform their best.

9/10 Team B captain Radha Patel ’20 said she learned essential lessons regarding teamwork and cooperation. She believes that these two factors are the most crucial towards building a solid team.

“If you have a bunch of intelligent people but they don’t work together, you’re not going to get anywhere,” Patel said. “I noticed this with our team because although we weren’t particularly good at any subject or specific skill that we needed for TEAMS, we all got along very well and came up with ideas, which helped a lot.

Gaining leadership and knowledge of certain subjects was an important lesson for 11/12 Team B captain Vaishakh Vinod ’19. Vinod said that besides learning how to be a leader for the team, he also realized on a large scale what TEAMS had to offer. Specifically, the topics addressed were particularly interesting for him.

“TEAMS is on a lot of important topics like maintaining a sustainable environment,” Vinod said. “Researching these topics also teaches you to learn more about the issues happening today.”

Similarly, WYSE/TEAMS sponsor Andrew Richardson also believed that students learned to deal with new challenges and find innovative approaches to unusual problems. He was impressed by how the students presented themselves in a professional manner.

“The contest topics were relevant to the real world and required students to go beyond material typically taught in school,” Richardson said. “I appreciated that students had to orally present their solutions, as in any real-world situation.”

Besides the competition itself, Liu said that for her one of the best things about TEAMS was recording the video in Chicago with her friends. She said that was incredibly relaxing.

“It relieved my stress because our team worked on the library basically every day for this competition,” Liu said. “Being able to travel with friends was pretty nice, and I’m glad it all paid off in the end!”