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Record number of students, girls and teams to compete Saturday in this year’s challenge: Shake, Rattle and Rescue!
SAN JOSE, CA – Armed with tidy playbooks and brimming with zeal, a record 1,433 intrepid young learners from every corner of the Bay Area will march into The Tech Museum Saturday, April 21, to compete for top honors in Silicon Valley’s premier science and technology event: The Tech Challenge.
The youths, who hail from Alameda to Van Nuys, make up a record 335 clever, tongue-in-cheek themed teams that will pit their ingenious devices against others in a daring contest to pluck “survivors” from an earthquake-ravaged bridge in this year’s challenge: “Shake, Rattle and Rescue.”
The Tech Challenge, presented by Cisco as part of a three-year sponsorship comprising financial resources, employee volunteers and a technology donation, introduces and reinforces the scientific and engineering process with a hands-on team project. Through the competition, students acquire key skills for a 21st-century global society. The competition’s focus on a real-world problem distinguishes it from many other science-based programs for youth in grades 5 through 12. An awards ceremony recognizing "Best Overall Solution" to "Most Spectacular Failure" follows the event.
“As we celebrate the 25th Anniversary of The Tech Challenge, we are reminded of the more than 14,000 students who have participated over the years and, having been inspired by the hands-on project and its application to real-world problems, have gone on to purposeful careers in science, technology, engineering, the arts and math,” said museum President Tim Ritchie. “We applaud them and look forward to inspiring many more generations of innovators in the next 25 years.”
A signature program of The Tech Museum, The Tech Challenge celebrates its 25th year and is already proving to be a landmark occasion: A record number 1,433 participants (1,175 last year); a record 48 percent of which are girls (45 percent last year), and the highest involvement of Title I schools of any science and technology competition in the region at 37 percent.
“The Tech Challenge ensures that students gain vital skills in, science, technology, engineering and math,” said Blair Christie, senior vice president and chief marketing officer, Cisco. “We are particularly proud to support the competition because of the museum’s proactive recruitment of students from all walks of life, especially those who wouldn’t otherwise be exposed to these fields,” added Christie, who serves on the board of directors for the museum. “The Challenge offers students an array of possibilities that one day can change the way they work, live, play and learn – and at the same time encouraging these talented students to grow into future leaders that may one day lead a company in this Valley.”
Come event day, more than 4,000 spectators will be met by virtual disaster. Blaring sirens will follow an urgent announcement of a powerful quake. Throughout the room, bright yellow caution lights will relentlessly flicker and plumes of smoke will swell into the air as the rolling, rumbling sounds of an earthquake rise from beneath the bleachers and explode overhead.
The Cisco Network Emergency Response Vehicle (NERV), a mobile communication center designed to establish interoperable communications in emergencies, will play a key visual role as part of the simulated, quake-ridden environment. The NERV was most recently deployed during the tornado outbreaks in Alabama and North Carolina, and at the San Bruno gas pipeline explosion in the San Francisco Bay Area, providing emergency communications to first responders and disaster survivors alike.
The American Red Cross Silicon Valley will create a display showing the after effects of a strong tremor. The Red Cross crew will also be handing out emergency preparedness kits. And Santa Clara County amateur HAM radio operators – who will use the event as an actual training class – will be weaving among the crowds to explain their roles in the event of a natural disaster.
For 25 years, 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.