BTE Student Stories

BTE students working on the Champagne Bottle Cap Design Challenge

Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, kicked off last quarter in 2023. We’re excited to share a Q&A with Site Coordinator Oleg Andric on the start of their program.

Question 1: Highlight one activity from this quarter (Jan-Mar 2024). What made this activity stand out?

A great activity we did this quarter was the Champagne Bottle Cap Design Challenge. The challenge was to design an original chair using only a metal wire from the champagne bottle, 2 cork bottle stoppers, and glue. The students were asked to work in groups, to draw their design, to explain their motivation for their specific design, and to build the chair. 47 students participated in the challenge.

The students loved the challenge since it involved creativity, teamwork, collaboration and consensus among the team members, and dexterity. The creative ideas and thoughts and different motivations were clearly visible in the resulting designs.

Question 2: What did your site do really well this quarter? Share an example of this practice in action.

We organized a series of STEM2D challenges. Since this is our site’s first quarter, we wanted to foster the culture of teamwork and team spirit through a series of STEM2D challenges so each challenge required the students to work in teams, collaborate, and observe and learn from other teams. As a result, we saw a lot of success in building a strong team spirit and a feeling of belonging. The site staff and the students have developed a strong connection and a bond of belonging to the same team, and the students also have developed a strong team feeling among themselves.

Question 3: How do you think this quarter your BTE students? How did they respond to and engage with content and activities?

Since this was our first quarter, the students reacted well with excellent attendance (from 76% to 92% per session) and a great spirit. The students enjoyed the STEM2D challenges, and they loved the Live from Surgery Kidney Transplant. The students also liked the tour of the local Johnson & Johnson site. It is wonderful to see our students arriving at the BTE sessions with a smile, joking among themselves and engaging with the staff, and being in good spirits. The program is engaging the students, exposing them to different STEM careers, and having fun along the way!

Here’s what one of the BTE participants, Molly, has to say:

“I decided to join the BTE program because I wanted more exposure to careers in the STEM field, especially because I have a passion for environmental sciences. Also, I got a lot of encouragement from my former teachers and other adults whom I trusted. I was not entirely sure what to expect out of this program. I did expect to learn from it and be given opportunities to expand my knowledge about STEM careers. I was not entirely sure how that would happen. I was pleasantly surprised when we were given the opportunity to go to a Johnson & Johnson facility and talk to experienced people. I enjoy the STEM building challenges that we do in some of our after-school meetings the most. They give me a chance to exercise my creativity, problem solving, and teamwork skills all while having fun with the friends I have made and become closer with during this program. The marshmallow tower challenge has so far been my favorite one of these.”


Thank you, Oleg and Molly! Learn more about the Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, site here.