Even a broken ankle couldn't keep Mikayla Medin away from competing in the Bay Area's largest team-design science competition, The Tech Challenge 2011, presented by Cisco.
Mikayla, who broke her right ankle during a softball game, made up one fifth of the award-winning "Trash Junkies," a hot-pink haired squad from Bullis Charter School in Los Altos.
"I wouldn't miss it!" Mikayla, 12, said of participating in the challenge with her team that included Jake Lee, 12, and Jake Pare, 12. "These guys run around a lot, but I'm used to it. I can keep up with them." And it's a good thing she did. The team won a top award - "Most Spectacular Failure" - for their motorized crane and Styrofoam contraption built to solve this year's challenge - to clean up Trash Island: The Great Pacific Gyre. The whirling vortex is trapping human-produced trash, mostly plastic bits, and is ruining marine habitats and poisoning plants and animals.
A record 1,142 students - including two from as far away as Maharashtra, India - competed in The Tech Challenge 2011. This year, girls made up or were exclusive members of 45 percent of the 263 teams in this year's challenge - the most ever. And, in another first, a home-schooled duo flew in from Maharashtra, India, just to compete. A team from Quebec, Canada, competed via video.
The Tech Challenge, a signature program of The Tech Museum, introduces and reinforces the scientific process with a hands-on team project geared to solve a real-world problem. Through the competition, students are introduced to science, technology, engineering, arts and math (STEAM), acquiring key skills for a 21st century global society.
The project-based nature of the competition distinguishes it from many other science-based program for youth in grades 5 through 12. For more than two decades, The Tech Challenge has allowed some 14,000 youth throughout California, New York and other regions to hone their creativity and innovation on challenges that included building devices to fight wildfires, remove invasive fish from a lake, explore an Egyptian tomb and survey craters on Mars.?
As the world economy becomes increasingly driven by technology, it is vitally important to break down barriers early on and to introduce and encourage students to the field through events such as The Tech Challenge and other learning-related opportunities. 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 - one reason Cisco has elected to be the presenting sponsor of the contest.
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:
High School - Best Overall Solution
(Team #132) Cephalopod Saviours from Cupertino High School (Cupertino)
(Team #272) Turn The Tide from Cupertino High School (Cupertino)
(Team #14) Narwhals Trippin' on Trash from Cupertino High School (Cupertino)
Grades 7 and 8 - Best Overall Solution
(Team #311) The Solution Seekers from Castilleja School (Palo Alto)
(Team #366) The Anti Plastic Cheezy Scuba Bubs from Hillview School (Menlo Park)
(Team #13) Aquanauts from Lawson Middle School (Cupertino)
Grade 5 and 6 - Best Overall Solution
(Team #246) Rolling Tacos from Menlo School (Atherton, CA)
(Team #365) AKA Eco Force 3 from Encinal School (Menlo Park, CA)
(Team #384) Clean up Crew from Menlo School (Atherton, CA)
Other teams took home prizes for their achievement in Engineering, Device Performance, Teamwork, Creativity, Style and Presentation.
For more information on The Tech Challenge, visit: www.thetech.org
Lead sponsors of The Tech Challenge are: SAP, Motorola Foundation and S.D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation.
Other corporate sponsors include: Intel, EMC, JP Morgan Chase, Fairchild Semiconductor, Wells Fargo, Tellabs Foundation, Xilinx, Ernst & Young, The Tech Museum's Emeritus Board, Amgen, Symantec, SanDisk, TE Connectivity, Flextronics, Lockheed Martin, Technology Credit Union, PMC-Sierra, IBM, Sony Electronics, Hitachi Data Systems, Northrop Grumman, BAE Systems, Integrated Device Technology, ScholarShare, The David H. Liu Foundation, AMD, ADC Foundation, DeVry University, SDForum Tech Women's Program, Team San Jose, NBC Bay Area, KTSF, Make: makezine.com, Bay Area News Group.
The Trash Junkies, 6th graders from Bullis Charter School, Los Altos, maneuver their device during The Tech Challenge 2011 at The Tech Museum.
Using a series of poles and string, a local high school team attempts to remove plastics from a makeshift ocean
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About The Tech Museum
The Tech Museum is a hands-on science and technology institution designed to engage people of all ages and backgrounds in experiences that educate, inform, provoke thought, and inspire action. Ensconced in the heart of Silicon Valley, the museum captures the spirit of the region through innovative content and programs such The Tech Challenge, our annual team design competition for youth, and the internationally renowned The Tech Awards, which recognizes technology to benefit humanity. Daily, The Tech Museum celebrates the present and encourages the development of pioneering ideas for a more promising future.