One of the best ways to ensure that we’re truly Raising Geek Generation 2.0 is to foster our kids’ love of all things geeky. Getting them excited about doing new things in science and technology is one way to do this. Having plenty of time for hands-on projects is another. Structure and incentive always helps motivate parents and kids alike. There is a fantastic competition underway that can do just that.
The contest is officially called The Toshiba/National Science Teachers Association ExploraVision Awards Program (hereafter referred to as ExploraVision). It is the world’s largest K-12 science and technology competition. The idea is for teams of students to pick a current technology, consider the next step for that technology and imagine what it would be like in 20 years. The competition is sponsored by Toshiba and administered by the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA). Kids from Kindergarten age up to 12th grade may compete in one of four grade level groups: K-3, 4-6, 7-9 and 10-12, so kids of slightly different ages can compete together. Teams can be made up of 2 to 4 students and each team will choose a coach and a mentor. There are first and second place winners in each age group. Winners in the four first-place teams each receive a $10,000 Series EE U.S. Savings Bond, and second-place winners each receive a $5,000 bond. (Canadian winners receive Canadian bonds valued at the equivalent Canadian Dollar amount.)
Students can pick any area of science, technology or forward thinking in which to center their project. The application process involves a lot of different tasks including brainstorming, creative and critical thinking, evaluating the ramifications of the proposed technology, drawing the technology and, in the competition’s second round, creating a website. Kids who participate, at the very least, get great experience in creating new things with science and technology. Older participants could include their experience on their resume.
Participating in this contest can be so much fun that the kids often don’t realize that they learning while they work. Some of last year’s winning ideas include a small device to help solve the problem of illegal steroids in sports, asphalt roads that could use the rays of the sun to make electricity and a technological music stand that helps musicians get organized and helps to improve their music studies much more quickly.
From the official press release:
As a testament to its value as an educational tool, the program has become so popular among teachers that many across the U.S. and Canada now include it as part of their regular science curriculum. Notably, the ExploraVision program was crafted to motivate and inspire students in STEM—or science, technology, engineering, and math education—a focus area recognized for its importance by many top educators and policy makers, including the Obama administration.
Additionally, the eight winning teams will also receive: “an expenses-paid trip with their families, mentor and coach to Washington, DC for a gala awards weekend in June 2010. Activities will include a visit to Capitol Hill to meet with members of Congress and a Science Showcase during which the students will display and demonstrate their winning ideas and sightseeing. The highlight of ExploraVision weekend will be a gala awards banquet and ceremony where students will be formally recognized for their creativity and accomplishments.”
Mr. Yoshihide Fujii, Chairman & CEO of Toshiba America, Inc., notes: “As an environmentally conscious company, Toshiba strives in all its business practices to contribute to the future of a sustainable world, and we believe strongly that technological innovation holds the key to many of the solutions that are needed. In this regard, the ExploraVision program is a clear reflection of our corporate vision. We’re proud of the way it is helping to foster tomorrow’s innovators and young minds, and helping promote continuous innovation, imagination, and sustainability.”
The deadline for this year’s contest is February 2, 2010. That may seem long a long way away, but there is a lot of work to be done, so get to it! For more information or to download entry forms, visit ExploraVision’s website. You can also email them with questions. ExploraVision is also on Twitter @exploravision and they have an ExploraVision Facebook Fan Page.