Teenagers Worldwide Invited to Innovate
Commercially-viable Products, Services
6th annual Spirit of Innovation Challenge continues its quest to transform STEM education
Houston (Aug. 29, 2012) – Today, Nancy Conrad, founder and chairman of the Conrad Foundation, officially launched the 2012-2013 Spirit of Innovation Challenge. This program encourages students from around the world, ages 13 - 18 to create products to solve global challenges for the benefit of humanity. For the last five years, the Conrad Challenge has given context to content and helped transform the way science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) skills are being used and understood by students.
Beginning Aug. 29 through Oct. 24, student teams are invited to submit one-page abstracts detailing their innovations. Thecompetition encompasses four challenge categories: Aerospace and Aviation, Cybertechnology and Security, Energy and Environment, and Health and Nutrition.
“We believe young people have the skills and the desire to develop solutions to benefit humanity,” Conrad said. “By giving them a way to demonstrate their knowledge and access to mentors who can explain the application of that knowledge, we provide context to the content they learn in the classroom. This is the only competition of its kind to combine education, innovation and entrepreneurship, to give students the tools they need to succeed and sustain our knowledge-based economy.”
The Conrad Challenge does not identify a specific problem; rather, the students create an innovation that is interesting to them and is of value to humanity. Participation is free and open to all students around the globe and uses an online community to facilitate student, teacher and mentor collaboration. Supporting the program is a robust online library and a network of world-renowned scientists, engineers, academics and business leaders who assist students in developing their ideas.
Selected semi-finalists in each challenge category develop a business plan, technical plan and graphical representation of the team’s product or innovation. The top five teams from each category will travel to the Conrad Foundation’s annual Innovation Summit, hosted at NASA-Johnson Space Center, April 10 – 13, 2013, where they present their innovations and vie for $10,000 next-step grants and commercialization opportunities.
“It has been our experience students excel when given the chance to be creative and collaborate with peers who share their interests. As a result, every year we receive entries that demonstrate young people possess the capability to imagine and bring to fruition changes that will benefit humanity,” said Jennifer Fotherby, executive director, Spirit of Innovation Challenge.
During the last five years, the Conrad Challenge supported the conceptualization of more than 350 innovative products and services. A sampling of team products include: cooling technology for astronaut space suits; water filtration devices for use in underdeveloped nations; and, a method for using ballet to improve the quality of life of autistic children. Currently, more than 20 percent of student innovations are in development.
Students, parents and teachers are invited to create profiles in the online community at www.conradawards.org. For more information about the program, contact the Spirit of Innovation Challenge at info (at) conradaward.org.