BUFFALO, N.Y. — Colin O'Connor, an eighth-grade student at Transit Middle School in East Amherst, is the WGRZ STEM Star of the Month for December 2021.
But not only is Colin a star "STEM" student but "STEAM" too. STEAM stands for science, technology, engineering, arts, and math. Colin could fit into all five of those areas, but two that stick out are math and arts.
Earlier this month Storm Team 2 Meteorologist Elyse Smith had the opportunity to speak to Colin and his math instructor, who believe it or not, works at the University at Buffalo (UB). Colin is part of The Gifted Math Program at UB, an accelerated program for middle and high school students designed to challenge those interested and highly advanced in the subject. A few principles Colin is learning through this program are calculus and coding, both typically only taught at the collegiate level.
Harry O'Malley is Colin's instructor and Co-Director of the program. He pointed out that it's Colin's well-rounded nature that makes him a great student. "He has that math ability, he has that creativity, but he’s also got that common sense. There’s not this stereotypical, one-dimensional kind of a kid. He’s really a down-to-earth, well-rounded kid that also just happens to have a gift for mathematics."
What his instructor is eluding to is Colin's other activities in the arts, music for one. Colin has been playing piano for three or four years and is now teaching himself how to play the guitar.
But wait, there’s more! Colin takes his participation in the arts to new heights, quite literally, through his other hobby: Ninja. He explained it's similar to the hit tv show, America Ninja Warrior, but the course is indoors instead. The sport even has its own organized league called The National Ninja League that hosts competitions too.
Besides being one of the top ninjas in his age group and having previous success at regional and even world competitions, Colin attributes a lot of his own academic confidence to his participation in ninja: "A lot of my friends even now I have from ninja just outside of school and in general. And even here at school, it’s really given me a bit of confidence because I’ve gotten used to going out there by myself, it’s you versus the course."
For more information on The Gifted Math Program, click here.
If you know of a student who excels in science, technology, engineering, or math-related fields, nominate them to be the next STEM Star here.