TechTest Jr. Tests Students’ Problem-solving Skills and Teaches Them About Local Career Opportunities 

Students using their free time to take a math test? It sounds far-fetched, but for the ninth straight year, on February 25th through 28th, 120 of the top 5th through 8th graders from 16 different local schools participated in the TechTest Jr. math competition, a math exam that tests critical thinking and problem solving skills. Students competed with their peers from Mount St. Mary Academy, Magnolia, Seven Hills, Lyman Gilmore, Forest Charter, NCSOA, Union Hill, Yuba River Charter, Chicago Park, Ready Springs, Grass Valley Charter, Alta Sierra, Arete, Williams Ranch, and Alta Sierra for bragging rights and prizes that include robots, quadcopters, Snap Circuits and other STEM-related surprises. 

The test was sponsored by the Sierra Economics and Science Foundation (SESF) and the Nevada County Superintendent of Schools office and hosted by four local tech companies and organizations: Telestream, AJA Video Systems, the Nevada County Tech Hub, and the Grass Valley Group. 

Aside from acknowledging students for their skills, the test promotes the development of critical thinking activities and helps prepare them for future exams of this type, such as the SAT and ACT. It also helps students to prepare for the TechTest Merit Scholarship program in their senior year of high school, where they can compete for over $15,000 in college scholarships. For more information on the high school test, visit https://sesfoundation.org/ 

Local tech companies hosted the test so that students could learn about the types of opportunities that are open to those who excel in math and science. Telestream (Robin Guerra and Danielle Scallin) hosted the 7th and 8th grade students, providing tours of their facility and showing product demos. AJA Video Systems (Stacey Wiederhold, Bob Hudelson and Crescent Hiss) hosted 5th and 6th grade students and also provided product demos, tours and discussions. Gil Mathew’s team at the Nevada County Tech Hub and Remington Maxwell’s team from the Grass Valley Group hosted 5th through 8th graders and provided exciting demos, including Virtual Reality, Green Screening and Video Mixing Boards. 

TechTest Jr. is offered at no cost to participating students and is funded by donations and sponsorships by the Sierra Economics and Science Foundation (SESF), the County Superintendent of Schools Office, and by local businesses. It was offered again this year as part of the county STEAM Expo and winners will be announced at the Expo on 3/28. If any individuals or local businesses are interested in helping to support the 2021 TechTest Jr., please contact Dave Pistone at dpistone@mtstmarys.org. Anyone interested in getting a copy of this year’s exam (with answers) and previous years’ tests can visit the SESF webpage at https://sesfoundation.org/techtest-jr/ and download the exams, or email Dave Pistone to get them.