Great Gorilla Games
| Andrea Hucke reporter |
Last Friday morning, April 4, Pittsburg State University’s Kansas Technology Center and John Lance Arena were teeming with high school students from the Four- State Area, who were participating in the university’s Great Gorilla Games.
The event, which took place throughout the day, consisted of 48 STEM-based and technology-related competitions, demonstrations and exhibits.
Mike Neden, associate professor of technology and workforce learning, says this year’s games were an expansion upon a similar pre-existing competition that the college has hosted for the past two years.
“The whole thing started a couple years ago when some high school teachers suggested that there be a competition here,” Neden said. “Previously they organized everything and we just provided the facilities, but this year we did it all ourselves.”
Although the day’s activities were undoubtedly fun and rewarding for the high school students involved, it also benefited the university.
“The event is a really good way to get juniors and seniors on campus and in the KTC to see what we’re all about and what we have to offer,” Neden said. “It’s a good recruitment tool because we’re able to find out who they are and build relationships.”
Byron McKay, graduate student in educational leadership, says he was excited for the recruitment opportunity that the Gorilla Games offered.
“Through this event we’ve promoted the whole College of Technology,” he said. “It’s a great chance for these kids to see it first hand; something I wish I would’ve known about and gotten to do at their age.”
Another benefit for many PSU students was the opportunity in their classes to help with the project and gain experience.
“My classes have been involved in developing and organizing activities so it’s been a great way for them to learn, experience mistakes, and then do better,” Neden said.
A variety of science, engineering, math and technology related activities kept participants involved throughout the day.
The exhibits and contests ranged from dragsters and motorcycles to rocketry and robotics.
“My sister and I brought our dragsters in for the event,” said Megan Meyer, junior in graphics and imaging, and one of the project team members. “I’ve enjoyed showing them off to the kids and helping them learn the safety side of racing.”
As the Great Gorilla Games was a large event, many volunteers worked long hours in preparation for the big day.
“We’ve probably had help from about 150 people, but really there’s a core group of 50 individuals,” Neden said. “It’s been a good mix of professors, students and even volunteers from businesses, like Home Depot and PITSCO, in the community.”
The first year of the event saw approximately 100 students, while last year’s affairs brought in close to 200. However, according to members of the core group, 400-500 high school students from at least 24 high schools in surrounding states showed up to participate in this year’s activities.
“I think this event will just keep getting bigger and bigger because it’s not only become a major recruitment tool for the College of Technology, but for the KTC,” Neden said. “Next year we’re looking to host it at the new event center and by then it could easily double in size.”