More teams than ever competed in The Tech Challenge 2010 and, for the first time ever, girls walked away with half the medals awarded in all major categories, including the coveted "Best Overall Solution."
Girls' teams from across the Bay Area dominated the competition, snapping up awards in elementary, middle and high school divisions. Their achievements are particularly important because girls and minorities are typically underrepresented in science and technology fields though they make up a largely untapped pool with great potential for increasing the scientific workforce of the nation.
"These victories serve as important barometers," Peter Friess, president of The Tech Museum, said. "We're seeing more and more girls not only enter The Tech Challenge, but they're going home with more medals. The Tech Challenge serves as the perfect pipeline for students of all backgrounds and levels of understanding to be exposed to science, technology, engineering and math, which we hope inspires students to pursue successful careers in the same."
As the world economy becomes increasingly driven by technology, it is vitally important to break down barriers early on and to introduce and encourage women and minorities to the field through events such as The Tech Challenge and other school-related opportunities, Friess added. The competition is also leveling the playing field by hosting more Title I schools and low-income after-school programs than any other Bay Area science contest, museum officials said.
The Tech Challenge competition had nearly 1,200 participants this year. Of that, 267 young scientists walked away with medals, and 50 of those students took home cash prizes for their achievement in Engineering, Device Performance, Teamwork, Creativity, Style and Presentation.
The annual team-design science competition saw a record 260 teams from the Bay Area and as far away as San Diego - compete in this year's challenge: "International Space Station Mission: Space Junk." Students were tasked with designing devices to attach two thrusters (size "D" batteries) to an inoperable satellite swinging overhead - all from the floor of a makeshift space station.
The signature science and technology program challenges teams - made up of two to six members - to create a solution to a real-world problem. Since its inception 23 years ago, The Tech Challenge has allowed some 13,000 youth throughout Northern California and other regions to hone their creativity and innovation on challenges that included building devices to fight wildfires, removing invasive fish from a lake, exploring an Egyptian tomb and surveying craters on Mars.
For this year's challenge, top awards for "Best Overall Solution" went to three teams each in the high school, middle school and elementary school divisions. Best Overall Solution encompasses device performance, engineering and design, style and presentation and the scientific process. The winning teams are:
1st Place: Giraffa Camelopardis (# 309) - Cupertino High School - Cupertino
2nd Place: Tino Two (#422) - Cupertino High School - Cupertino
3rd Place: Speeple (#299) - Cupertino High School - Cupertino
Grades 7 and 8:
1st Place: Zero Gravity - Jordan Middle School - Palo Alto
2nd Place: Space Waste Management - St. John Vianney - San Jose
3rd Place: Mission Accomplished - William Hopkins Junior High School - San Jose
Grades 5 and 6:
1st Place: Astro Scouts - Boy Scout Troop #408 - Cupertino
2nd Place: Incognito Space Sweepers of Morgan Hill
3rd Place: Cupernova's - Cupertino & Kennedy middle schools - Sunnyvale
All other winners, in categories ranging from "Most Spectacular Failure" to "Best Team Name" to "Most Perseverance," can be found on The Tech Museum's website at: techchallenge.thetech.org/awards.cfm
Lead sponsors of The Tech Challenge are Brocade and SAP. Other corporate sponsors include Intel, Motorola Foundation, EMC, S.D. Bechtel Jr. Foundation, Fairchild Semiconductor, Wells Fargo, Tellabs Foundation, Xilinx, Ernst & Young, The Tech Museum's Emeritus Board, Amgen, Cadence, Symantec, SanDisk, Tyco Electronics, Flextronics, Technology Credit Union, PMC-Sierra, IBM, Hitachi Data Systems, Lockheed Martin, Cisco, Northrop Grumman, PAE Systems, Integrated Device Technology, ScholarShare, The David H. Liu Foundation, AMD, SDForum Tech Woman's Program.
Senior Manager Public Relations
About The Tech Museum
The Tech Museum is a hands-on technology and science museum for people of all ages and backgrounds. The museum - located in the Capital of Silicon Valley - is a non-profit learning resource established to engage people in exploring and experiencing technologies affecting their lives. Through programs such as The Tech Challenge, our annual team design competition for youth, and internationally renowned programs such as The Tech Awards presented by Applied Materials, Inc., The Tech Museum celebrates the Spirit of Silicon Valley by encouraging the development of innovative ideas for a more promising future.