Zeta team upset after STEM loss

The winning team at the STEM competition

The winning team at the 2016 STEM competition (Photo: Christian Pietrowski, Patterson Press)

By Alvaro Flores-Villegas,

Students competed in the 2016 STEM competition on November 11th. The STEM competition is an annual event at Patterson that involves challenges based mainly on Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math.

Students from all cohorts were getting in their teams as they prepared for that day. One team called the Zeta team, which consisted of Amadou Bah, Edward Torres, Yamen Khalil, and Nan Wang declared that they were going to win 1st place in the whole competition. “I already had a spot to put the trophy in my room and dreamed to have my first STEM trophy before I graduate”, said Amadou Bah.

Yet at the end of the competition, the Zeta team did not win first, second or even third place. Rather than accepting the loss, Bah has accused Mr. Yates of rigging the competition. Mr. Yates is the main teacher in charge of organizing the STEM competition. Bah finds it difficult to believe that a younger, less experienced team could beat his team of seniors. He also points to the fact that the winning students were all students from Mr. Yates’ engineering class. Bah alleges that Mr. Yates showed favoritism by letting his own students win the competition. Edwin Torres, another member of the Zeta team, agrees with Bah. “When the winning teams were being rewarded, everyone was caught by surprise on who took first place”, Torres told the Patterson Press.

In response, Mr. Yates said, “the judges were volunteers from various Engineering or other STEM Businesses and Universities. I had no influence on their scoring; they simply followed the event instructions and rubric which all students had access to”. Mr. Yates pointed out that the STEM competition has a long history of upsets, including one year when a team of ninth graders beat all the upper grades.

“The STEM Competition is not about rote knowledge, but about creativity and applying STEM knowledge and skills in a new setting. So even inexperienced teams can bring their creativity and problem-solving skills to bear”, Mr. Yates explained. Unable to resist a little trash-talking, Mr. Yates added, “My students are the best; that is why they won! Unlike the [Presidential] election that same week, the STEM Competition was not rigged!”

In conclusion, I was really shocked myself when I competed in the competition and found out we were not the winners, but at the end of the day we had a good laugh and just accepted it. It was a close game after all!

The industry partners who served as judges during the STEM competition Photo: Christian Pietrowski, Patterson Press)

The industry partners who served as judges during the STEM competition Photo: Christian Pietrowski, Patterson Press)


(Photos: Christian Pietrowski, Patterson Press)

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