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Lewistown students named semi-finalist in STEM competition
By 
Katherine Sears
Reporter
Tuesday, January 19, 2021
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Team leaders (from left) Beau Blumhardt, Talmage Brooks and Hailey Gallagher stand next to the 3D printer they are using to make a puzzle to help young people verbalize and visualize priorities.
Photo courtesy of Suzie Flentie

Lewistown Junior High students are again among the nation’s finest in STEM projects. They have been selected as one of the 75 semi-finalists in the Samsung Solve for Tomorrow Contest, a nationwide competition that challenges sixth through 12th grade students to apply science, technology, engineering, and math skills to find creative solutions to real-world issues impacting their local communities. Semi-finalists were chosen based on their creative and strategic proposals to solve these issues.
The team has been chosen as a state winner or semi-finalist for five of the past six years.
This year, the group of 15 students proposed to use CAD software and 3D printing to create a puzzle for students, mentors, parents, and counselors to help young people verbalize and visualize the priorities in their lives. Lewistown Junior High School eighth grade science teacher Suzie Flentie submitted the project and provided an explanation of the concept in a press release.

“COVID-19 has presented many new problems for communities and has also exacerbated a growing problem with the expansion of technology,” Flentie wrote. “Without the structure of in-person school, students need to be mindful of their time allocation in order to achieve their goals. Self awareness and self management skills that come with social and emotional learning are lacking.”
The students will use engineering and math to create various sized puzzle pieces, with the idea that the larger pieces must be put in place before the smaller pieces can be added. The group will also label the pieces to represent different priorities.
“Young people lack training in prioritizing their time, since we have so often done it for them when they are in school and structured activities,” said Flentie. “Pulling those structures away has left many adrift, depressed, and in need of guidance to be mindful of fitting priorities into the time we have.”
Students on the team include Talmage Brooks, Beau Blumhardt, Hailey Gallagher, Tyson Dubbs, Lexya Burnham, Chloe Baumann, Jaden Martin, Peyton Hartford, Ava Robinson, Rebecca Birdwell, Delainey Rixford, Maggie Fulbright, Regan Comes, Kiya Foran, Kayla Jensen, Kloe Southworth, and Leila Bevis.
Teacher partners assisting with the project are Brett Shelagowski, Katherine Spraggins, Katie Wirtzberger and Jocelyn Krogstad.
Fergus High School senior Cialiao Smith is helping the team with his experience in 3D printing. Flentie’s former student, Beth Wright, has also used her experiences to help the team. Wright is the supervisor of marketing for Service Corporation International and has undergrad degrees in economics and international studies and a masters degree in data science from Texas A&M.
“When she was working from home in Lewistown for a short time, she came into our classroom as a guest speaker on coding and its applications, and helped us with some coding activities,” said Flentie.
The team will receive $15,000 in technology and supplies for the school and will now have the opportunity to advance to future phases of the contest. Flentie said the next step is to submit a video on their project by March 21. They will be notified in April if they have been named a national finalist.
“We’ve never made it that far before,” said Flentie. “There’s a lot of really tough competition. We’re up against high schools and college prep schools and even a math, science, and engineering magnet school. We will give it our best shot and the kids are super excited.”

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