Name: Madison Smith
Year: 5th year
Major: Environmental Engineering
Submission: SYNERGY: A Game of Heat, Work, and Strategy
Commentary: Madison Smith's SYNERGY demonstrates how games can be excellent tools to help students learn, apply, and engage with complex STEM concepts. With SYNERGY, Madison applies a resource management game model to the domain of energy engineering. As a game creator, Madison takes care to attend to her players as learners (or is it learners as players?). The SYNERGY instruction manual conveys just the right amount of content in a light and even funny tone. Her game pieces — fabricated at the UGA Libraries Makerspace and the UGA Engineering Student Fabrication Center— are simple and appealing designs that deftly communicate the differences between devices like turbines, pumps, and motors. We appreciated the game's pragmatic approach. For example, players have to build services like water towers and solar vehicle fleets for a city, accounting for such factors as cost and efficiency in their designs. In her submission, Madison also included lecture and brainstorming notes, along with early designs and prototypes, which provide insight into her creative process. In her cover letter, Madison— who is an avid board gamer— discusses her wish to continue improving upon SYNERGY in the future. We look forward to seeing what she does next with her passion for games and her skills as a STEM communicator. Written by contest judge Chandler Christoffel
Name: Madison Breda
Major: Animal Science
Submission: Flows Into The River - Music
Commentary: Madison Breda takes Bishop Briggs’ power ballad and transforms it into a plea to humans about environmental degradation. The lyrics tell us about how our actions on land can drastically change our waterways and water sources, and oftentimes not for the better. The lyrics, inspired by Madison's work with the Upper Oconee Watershed Network, fit well and flow naturally. Madison’s rock anthem voice is beautifully backed up by Odum School of Ecology’s acapella choir, The Ecotones. This entry eloquently combines emotion, music, and poetry into a powerful environmental message. Written by contest judge Kelsey Forester.
Name: David DiGioia
Major: Mathematics and Computer Science
Submission: Can Any Knot Be Untied? Intro to Knot Theory and Tricolorability (PenguinMath) - Video
Commentary: Walking beginners through knot theory with a penguin for a sidekick, David DiGioia’s PenguinMath entry captures the aim of the contest to creatively explain a STEM concept to a broad audience. With a clear goal and easy-to-follow 3D and 2D diagrams, David narrates the video to explain knot theory and tricolorability in a visually engaging way. The video is also well-paced, giving the learner time to think through the concepts while following along with the narration. In addition to clearly explaining knot theory, this video holds a simple storyline as David helps his penguin friend determine if his knot can be untied. Did the penguin untie his knot? You will have to watch David’s video to find out. Written by contest judge Christina Lee.
Name: Eve Reiter Year: Fourth-year Major: Biology
Name: Hannah Postma Year: Third-year Major: Genetics
Submission: The Bachelorette - Video
Commentary: Paws everything and get your pup-corn! Try as we mutt we couldn’t help watching this fetching entry over and over again. Starring three pooches (or is it one pooch? conspiracy theories abound..) this binge-worthy season finale of The Bachelorette really packs a punch. Join Eve on the night she must decide which bachelor to choose as her fur-ever mate…it’s a ruff choice. This entry really is one for the dogs. Written by contest judge Lindsey Reynolds.