Saginaw Valley State University will be filled with about 5,500 high school students seeking a state championship Wednesday, April 11 through Saturday, April 14 as SVSU hosts the statewide FIRST Robotics competition for the second consecutive year.
In total, more than 8,000 people will visit the Great Lakes Bay Region for the competition, including professional mentors, family members and others.
Michigan employers report high demand for employees with scientific and technical expertise who can work in a team. As an organization, FIRST in Michigan seeks to inspire young people to be science and technology leaders and innovators.
Adrianne Cole, director of STEM at SVSU, said the event fits well with SVSU’s many outreach activities in the STEM fields (science, technology, engineering and math).
“We are partnering with many schools throughout the Great Lakes Bay Region and beyond on a daily basis to boost student performance in math and science, and to provide teachers with tools and resources to be more effective in the classroom,” she said.
Many SVSU faculty and staff volunteer their time to support local schools and education programs, and more than 300 individuals – faculty, staff, students and alumni – volunteered during the 2017 state championships.
In addition to the learning that takes place, the event also is a boon to local businesses. The Great Lakes Bay Regional Convention and Visitors Bureau estimated the economic impact of last year’s event to be at least $1 million.
“We couldn't be more proud to welcome back the FIRST in Michigan Robotics Competition to Go Great Lakes Bay in 2018,” said Sonja Wood, Manager of Go Great Meetings for Go Great Lakes Bay. “We're absolutely thrilled to have these bright and talented students explore and experience Pure Michigan's Great Lakes Bay with their families and friends again this year, enjoying the incredible amenities and hospitality of SVSU and our entire region.”
The FIRST Robotics field will include 160 teams from across the state.
Practice sessions and robot repairs will take place in SVSU’s field house, while competition events will be held in O’Neill Arena of the Ryder Center. Both facilities are part of SVSU’s athletic complex.
FIRST Robotics teams that qualify for the state finals will arrive Wednesday, April 11 for inspection. The qualifying rounds of competition will take place throughout the day Thursday, April 13 and Friday, April 14. The playoff rounds will be Saturday, April 15 with the champion crowned that afternoon.
In each round, three teams compete using autonomous and remote-controlled robots piloted by students, battling to earn points during a two-minute round.
The theme for the 2018 FIRST Robotics competition is “Power Up.” It features two alliances of video game characters and their human operators who are trapped in a 1980s-style arcade game. Both alliances are working to defeat the boss in order to escape.
Major sponsors for the state championships include Consumers Energy, The Dow Chemical Company, DTE Energy and Ford Motor Company.
For more information, visit svsu.edu/firstatsvsu/.
About FIRST in Michigan: The FIRST Robotics Competition combines the excitement of a varsity sport with hands-on training in science and technology to help high school students discover how rewarding a career in engineering or technology can be. Remote-controlled robots, piloted by students and cheered on by thousands of screaming fans, go head-to-head in short games on the floor of a sports arena, battling it out to earn points during a two-minute round.
Saginaw Valley State University will host one of the leading scholars of contemporary Islamic thought and Islamic spirituality for a public lecture. Omid Safi, director of the Duke Islamic Studies Center, will speak Wednesday, March 28 at 6:30 p.m. in Curtiss Hall Banquet Room A.
A leading Muslim public intellectual, Safi has been among the most frequently sought speakers on Islam in popular media, appearing frequently in the New York Times, Newsweek, Washington Post, and on PBS, NPR, NBC, BBC, CNN, and international media.
A professor of Islamic Studies at Duke University, where he completed his Ph.D., Safi has served on the board of the Pluralism project at Harvard University and is the co-chair of the steering committee for the Study of Islam and the Islamic Mysticism Group at the American Academy of Religion, the largest international organization devoted to the academic study of religion. Committed to the intersection of love and justice, he was recently invited by the family of Martin Luther King to speak from Ebenezer Church in Atlanta during the 49th annual commemoration for Dr. King.
At SVSU, Safi’s lecture is titled, “Teachings of Rumi for Today's World.” The great 13th century Sufi mystic Rumi has become a best-selling poet in the English language, and people in his native Persia, as well as in Turkey, South Asia, and now Europe and America turn to him for inspiration and spiritual guidance.
Safi's talk will offer an in-depth dive into the ocean of divine love that animates Rumi, his poetry and teachings. The presentation will explore his astonishing love poetry, his unforgettable life stories and the legacies that are connected to him with an eye toward what these teachings have to say to us today. At a time that so many people are running ragged and find themselves overwhelmed, what do the love mystics of this tradition have to offer today, here and now?
The lecture is open to the public. Admission is free of charge. A reception and book signing will follow the lecture.
Safi’s visit to SVSU is supported through the Dr. Raana Akbar Memorial Lecture Series in partnership with SVSU’s Edwards Lecture Series and the Dow Visiting Scholars Lecture Series.
The Raana Akbar Memorial Lecture on Islam and Culture was established in 2011 by Dr. Waheed Akbar in memory of his wife Raana, a former member of the SVSU Board of Control, physician and community leader.
The William and Julia Edwards Lecture in Philosophy and Religion is a forum where recognized scholars in religion and philosophy are invited to share their work with the campus community.
The Dow Visiting Scholars and Artists program was established through an endowment from The Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow Foundation to enrich our regional cultural and intellectual opportunities
For more information, visit www.svsu.edu/publiclectures.
Saginaw Valley State University is seeking nominations for its third annual Heroes in Education awards.
“Think for a moment about your child's most influential teacher,” said Craig Douglas, dean of SVSU’s College of Education. “That may be a person who should be nominated, but teachers aren’t the only heroes in schools. It could be the custodian who went out of her way to open a locker, or the secretary who helped bandage a scraped knee. All of these individuals are candidates for Heroes in Education recognition. We are looking for those educators who go above and beyond the call of duty."
Six educators will be selected for recognition from those nominated; nominations may be submitted by anyone. Students, parents, colleagues, and community volunteers have submitted nominations in the past.
Nomination forms are available online at http://www.svsu.edu/collegeofeducation/forms. Nominations must be received by 5 p.m. Thursday, March 29.
The 2018 recipients will be honored during a ceremony at SVSU Thursday, April 19 at 7 p.m.
The previous Heroes in Education recipients are:
• Charles Arnett, band and orchestra teacher at Chandler Park Academy
• Sally Burkey, assistant cook at Freeland High School
• Jerry Carmien, service worker at Kolb Elementary School in Bay City
• Kelly Frank, teacher at Tawas Middle School
• Scott Garcia, custodian at Genesee STEM Academy
• Katie Jenkins, teacher at Carrie Knause Early Childhood Learning Center in St. Louis
• Gary Karney, teacher at List Elementary School in Frankenmuth
• Kathryn (Kathy)Layer, teacher at Great Beginnings Childcare in Saginaw
• Joseph Peet, teacher at Kingston Elementary School
• Lawanda Purches-Waller, parent liaison at Genesee STEM Academy in Flint
• Todd Switala, coach and volunteer at Sterling Elementary School
• Everton Williams, director of operations at Pontiac Academy for Excellence
For a few hours next week, visitors of Saginaw Valley State University's library will have access to an additional medium of information: people.
For the second year, SVSU's Melvin J. Zahnow Library will host a “Human Library” event, where community members will volunteer to share their stories, experiences and life choices to attendees. The gathering is Tuesday, March 20, from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. on the library's first floor.
"The Human Library will give people the opportunity to engage in conversations that challenge stereotypes and prejudices," said Ashley Blinstrub, an SVSU research and assessment librarian helping to coordinate the gathering.
"The event will create a space for participants to take part in meaningful conversation with people that have different life experiences, histories and perspectives."
Every Human Library's "books" vary, depending on community needs and specific volunteers. Tuesday's event will feature people who tell stories about their experience about being a veteran with three deployments under her belt, being a survivor of a kidney and pancreas transplant, and being a person coping with mental illness. Other volunteers will discuss their experiences living with Celiac's disease, single-parenting an autistic child, and dealing with poverty and prejudice.
Last year, Sherrin Frances, SVSU associate professor of English, helped transplant the concept to SVSU from Denmark, where the Human Library Organization conceived the idea more than a decade ago.
The event is free and open to the public. For more information on Human Libraries, visit http://humanlibrary.org/.
The Saginaw Valley State University forensic team continued to reap the rewards of its hard work, winning several honors at the Michigan Intercollegiate Speech League State Tournament at Eastern Michigan University Saturday, March 10.
SVSU students claimed four of the 11 top novice awards, given to the student who places highest in an event and has participated in fewer than six competitions. SVSU was one of eight Michigan colleges and universities who competed at the event.
Darious Henry, a communication major from Chesterfield Township, earned second place in prose speaking, along with being the top novice in that event.
Jrew Brickel, a criminal justice major from Midland, finished in sixth place and took home the top novice honor in the extemporaneous speaking event.
Jayla Gaskins, a communication major from Detroit, earned sixth place in dramatic interpretation along and was named top novice for the competition.
Jill Castle, a communication major from Standish, earned the top novice award in the after
dinner speaking event.
Gina Kearly, a communication major from Midland, earned seventh place award in the poetry category.
In all, eight SVSU students have qualified during the 2017-18 season for the National Forensic Association National Championship tournament at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh that will be held April 19-23. They are: Brickel; Jenna Brown, a secondary education major from Saginaw; Castle, Andrea Garner, a communication major from Westland; Gaskins, Kelley Gray, a communication major from Sandusky; Henry, and Tiler Jewell, a creative writing major from Essexville
Amy Pierce, SVSU associate professor of communication, serves as the team’s faculty adviser.
For more information regarding the Michigan Intercollegiate Speech League State Forensics Tournament, please visit michiganspeech.wordpress.com/events.
Saginaw Valley State University will welcome leading educators from the Great Lakes Bay Region to provide insight and motivation for students and others seeking education careers during “The Heart of Teaching” forum Friday, March 16 at 1:30 p.m. in Gilbertson Hall.
“Now is a great time to become a teacher, in terms of job prospects. There is a shortage of candidates reported all over Michigan,” said Craig Douglas, dean of SVSU’s College of Education. “We hope hearing from current educators will inspire and motivate individuals considering a teaching career.”
The event will feature a panel discussion in Ott Auditorium designed to share the motivation and challenges behind becoming a teacher. The following educators are scheduled to appear:
Prior to the panel discussion, SVSU will present the 2018 Harold W. Peterson Award for Excellence in Teaching to Jenna Perez, a second grade teacher at Loomis Math, Science and Technology Academy in the Saginaw Public School District.