Tag: Jonah Drenning

Centennial Holds the Maryland Blue Ocean Competition

Words and Photos: Jonah Drenning

On Saturday, March 21, 32 teams gathered at Centennial High School to participate in a special kind of business competition: the Maryland Blue Ocean Competition. Founded by Centennial Senior Nick Benavides, the second iteration of his competition required students to develop and present “blue ocean” business ideas.

But what does “blue ocean” even mean? According to the best-selling book “Blue Ocean Strategy”, whose co-author Renee Mauborgne was a keynote speaker at the event, blue ocean strategy is the use of uncontested market space to make competition irrelevant. In other words, the business ideas are so new and innovative that they will have no business competitors.

The presentations kicked off at 11:20 am where groups featuring topics such as cloud computing, sports injury treatment, farming, and fashion were split into in four different rooms to present their ideas to judging panels composed of local business leaders and entrepreneurs. Teams were scored from one to five in four different categories (innovation/creativity, viability, knowledge, and presentation) and the top scorers from each room and the four next best scoring teams moved on to the final round of presentations.

Before the final round started, workshops dealing with topics from 3D Printing and mobile development to thinking outside the box and balancing entrepreneurship with college were held for the participants to attend. The workshops were led by figures in the community with business experience, including Centennial’s own teacher, Mr. Lee.

Beginning at 4:15 pm, the final presentations began and boasted an audience that filled Centennial’s entire media center. The presentations were well-rehearsed and several groups showed off prototypes and talked of deals with companies.  All the teams were very respectful and could be seen shaking hands and applauding after other groups’ presentations.

“The finalists presented very developed ideas,” said Benavides, “A few teams have already started selling their products.”

In the end, first place went to team LyfeCord, whose members are from McDonogh. Their product is a nylon and polyester phone charger for Apple devices that prevents fraying and other damage that frequently occurs (more information can be found at lyfecord.com).

Team GelGear won second place with stylish and affordable concussion protection equipment and third place was awarded to team ProtoCast, who developed a new method to manufacture metal parts using 3D-printed plastic molds. Other finalists were Vicinities, LLC (event-matching social network), Hawks, Inc. (turbine used to recharge electric/hybrid cars), SoundCheck (music comparing and evaluating software), EliteU (peer-to-peer online tutoring), and Agrius Games (multiplayer card game).

Blue Ocean Committee members Pranav Ganapathy and Andrew Deng remarked, “This year Maryland Blue Ocean Competition is expanding horizons and we tried to attract more people from around the state.”

The competition was open to competitors statewide and attracted students from schools such as McDonogh, Gilman, River Hill, and Atholton as well as many others. However, the competition began at Centennial and is run entirely by students, many of whom are from Centennial.

“We’re proud of all the teams who have competed today.  Thanks for making Blue Ocean a success!” proclaimed committee member Kunal Pathade.

For more breaking news and photos, follow The Wingspan on Instagram and Twitter @CHSWingspan.

Centennial’s It’s Academic Team’s Success Continues

Words: Jonah Drenning

At a recent Hammond High School It’s Academic Tournament, Centennial High School’s A Team, featuring Ryan Heslin, Anant Mishra, Mohammed Khader, and Weijia Cheng, placed first, continuing their three year winning streak.

“I am very pleased with our recent success at the annual Green Eggs and Hammond tournament,” said Mishra, “Our success over the past few years has been truly extraordinary.”

Other Centennial teams also performed exceptionally well, with the B Team finishing in fourth, the C Team in fifth, and D team in ninth amongst a field of 36 teams. Even then, several of the Centennial teams were eliminated when they were forced to play each other due to the design of the event’s bracket.

Looking forward, the A and B Teams have qualified for the Partnership for Academic Competition Excellence’s (PACE) tournament, in Reston, VA, and are applying to the High School National Tournament in Chicago. They are hoping to improve on last year’s respective 18th place (out of 96) and 13th place (out of 272) finishes from last year. Additionally, Mishra believes that their spectacular showing at Hammond did not even indicate their true potential.

“The format of the Hammond Tournament was TV style where the questions were shorter, less in depth, and based heavily on buzzer speed,” stated Mishra, “Although we enjoy TV style, our real success lies in quiz bowl, a format utilized throughout the country where the questions are significantly longer and require much greater knowledge as opposed to buzzer speed […] my teammates, myself included, believe that this is where our success can be truly measured.”

With a combination of this advantageous format and many hours of careful practice, the It’s Academic teams will be tested on June 6-7 during the PACE and on May 29-31 in the High School National Tournament.

For more breaking news and photos, follow The Wingspan on Instagram and Twitter @CHSWingspan.

Photos from National Writing Day and Eisenstein’s Physics Project

Photos: Martha Hutzell

Words: Giana Han

On October 20, Centennial students pulled into the parking lot to see writing filled parking spots that celebrated National Writing Day.  Mr. O’Brien’s Advanced Composition class arranged the event, and they were at each lunch running different writing activities. During lunch,  the Advanced Composition students had games, posters, and contests that the other students could participate in.  They asked students why they write, and the students were able to put their response on a huge poster.

Words: Jonah Drenning

In Mr. Eisenstein’s physics class, students pushed Eisenstein’s car across the small road leading to the teacher parking lot in order to apply concepts taught in the classroom to a real world setting. Students recorded measurements in order to calculate push forces exerted by the students and the friction coefficient inside of the car.

Healthier Foods Throughout the School

Words: Jonah Drenning

The next time you go to buy a snack or drink at the vending machines after school, you may notice some changes in the selection of snacks. Rather than bags of chips, cookies, and other desserts in the vending machines, there are bags of baked chips, various granola bars, and a lot of empty space. Instead of sodas and soft drinks in the other vending machines, there is only bottled water, conveniently sold right next to drinking fountains.

Despite the efforts at Centennial to make the food choices healthier, the process is not complete. The fries at lunch no longer come with salt, but are still served with every meal. If a student wants unhealthy food, a variety of snacks are still available to choose from at lunch including cookies, pretzels (still covered in salt), and ice cream. The school has removed the unhealthy items from the vending machines, but the exact same kind of food is still served every day during lunch.

Although Centennial has started to change some food options, the school should change the major unhealthy foods at lunch or not change the vending machines at all.

The students who use vending machines most often, athletes, dancers, and actors who stay after school, have some of the healthiest lifestyles in the school already by virtue of their involvement in physical activities. Changing the selection of snacks in the vending machine could be a step in the right direction, but it targets the wrong group of students.

The goal of the administration to improve the health of the food sold around the school is admirable even if the results are less than perfect. The school’s attempt shows that they care about the health of their students and are willing to make changes to make the food healthier. It would be more effective to introduce more healthy alternatives at lunch, when all students eat and many purchase food offered by the school cafeteria and snack bar. One way to improve the health value of the food at lunch is to offer more side dishes that are fruits and vegetables, instead of including French fries with every meal. Adding some treats to the snack bar that are not all full of sugar and empty calories would help to eliminate the problem as well.

The school’s lack of variety and selection in the cafeteria and removal of unhealthy food in the school vending machines gives the majority of the students little change in their diet and affects the groups of students who do not need to worry as much about their health instead of the students eating unhealthy food at lunch and then sitting still for hours afterward during class.

The county has the right attitude in trying to make the food in school healthier, and they can improve their efforts by focusing on the cafeteria next.

Technology Spreading to Students

by Jonah Drenning

Ellicott City, MD – How would you like to be allowed to use your smart phone in school? Do you think it could be useful to help you learn? Or just a distraction?

Recently, the Carroll County School System has considered changing its policy on electronics in schools, according to carrollcountytimes.com. The Carroll County Board of Education is reconsidering which phones and other electronics can be used for educational purposes. Smart phones are banned in most school systems, but teachers use increasing amounts of technology in instruction.

Teachers are using technology such as interactive whiteboards to teach their classes. Also, each teacher in the Carroll County School System is assigned a laptop and a projector for use during the year. Teachers at Centennial also have access to a laptop, a project, and document cameras that are becoming commonplace in the classroom.

Many teachers and staff enjoy using the new technology and believe that it helps them teach, grade, and communicate with other teachers, students, and parents quickly and efficiently.

“My favorite part of the technology is that I can do research for projects using the reliable sources and databases from the school website,” said Sophomore Jeffrey Tse.

Teachers in Howard County use a website, Aspen, to inform students and parents of grades as soon as the teacher finishes grading, and students no longer wait until the teacher hands back the work. However, the transition from the old, similar service TeacherEase was difficult, and technology can be difficult to manage.

Issues with the new uses of technology in the school system include the quick replacement cycle for computers, the high cost of maintaining and buying technology, and the potential for misuse that technology comes with. The schools technology does not always work correctly.

“Some of the school’s technology is not up to date, and the website we look at for grades is very buggy,” said Sophomore Ankur Holz.

Keeping in mind the advantages and drawbacks of using technology in the classroom, school systems across the state must make a decision about the amount of technology that students will be able to use. Current Howard County policy requires phones off and out of view during the day. This policy does not account for smart phones having qualities of computers and potential for education.

“You can use your phone as a dictionary or calculator for most classes, and you could even use it as a metronome or tuner for music classes,” said Sophomore Connor Lin.

Smart phones can be used as a substitute for many common classroom tools. They can be dictionaries, planners, calculators, sketchbooks, and search engines. Although phones can be misused in class, allowing students to use phones during class might cut down on “illegal” use. Schools must still be careful if they are to adopt a new technology policy.

Cyber-bullying and theft are issues that would have to be addressed in a new technology policy. Cyber-bullying has been covered in several assemblies throughout the past few years, but it is still an issue.

“As more social networking is established, there are more opportunities for people to take advantage of innocent lives susceptible to attacks,” said Holz.

Theft is a problem that would only grow if students could use their smart phones in class. Currently the Howard County School System is not responsible for stolen electronics during the day, as they are banned in school, but that could change if students could use phones in school.

“Yes, if phones were allowed for use in school the school [should be] partially responsible because they authorized the use,” said Holz.

Another reason to include technology in the curriculum is how it puts all students on an equal playing field. Technology improves disabled or shy students’ learning experience. A study conducted in schools in North Carolina, Texas, Pennsylvania, and South Dakota found that increased use in technology enhanced the learning experience of the majority of the students, according to carroltechcouncil.org.

With the increase of use of technology in many people’s daily lives, the Howard County Public School System may have to reaffirm or take a new stance on technology in the near future.