In its second year, the Lego Education Summit has grown in both attendance and scope. Last year’s conference, held in St. Louis, focused solely on STEM education topics, but the 2012 Summit, held in Kansas City expanded its seminar topics to include everything from grant resources and funding to incorporating hands-on learning in the classroom. Still, STEM was the star of the day and nowhere was that more evident than the afternoon keynote.
It’s not often that a ballroom full of adults listens attentively to a couple of very young women, but very few young women are like sisters Mikayla and Shannon Diesch. Mikayla, 18, is headed to Cornell this fall to study biological engineering and business. Shannon, 16, recently graduated high school and will be attending the prestigious Phillips Exeter Academy for the next couple of years. While their academic achievements are impressive, it’s their achievements outside of the classroom that really inspires.
A few years ago, Mikayala and Shannon developed a nutrition bar designed to fit the needs of astronauts in space. NASA was impressed enough that their bars were flown onboard STS-134 to the International Space Station. The White House was impressed as well, and in 2010 they were invited to meet President Obama at the White House Science Fair.
But the girls’ story only begins with these accomplishments that would be enough for a lifetime for many. Since the two happily identify as nerds, they decided to develop a nutritional bar that helps the brain. They quickly identified the inclusion of the DHA chain of Omega 3 as a must-have ingredient, but were faced with a challenge no one had been able to overcome: stabilizing the DHA to prevent the fishy smell and taste from ruining an apple and cinnamon-flavored bar. It should be no surprise that they have succeeded and now hold a patent for the process.
And these are just two of the inventions these two wonderfully brainy girls have come up with. To learn more about these inspiring students, watch the video above and to learn more about the Lego Education Innovation in Learning Summit, visit their site.