A team of students from Smoky Hill High School took top honors in the Third Annual Student Innovation Challenge, held during the National School Boards Association (NSBA) Conference held in Denver, March 25-26. Hosted by the DLR Group, the challenge combines applied learning, collaboration and teamwork to solve a global problem. The event allows students to showcase their creative skills and demonstrate the active learning process.
“DLR Group conceived the Student Innovation Challenge to give board members and administrators an opportunity to collaborate with and learn alongside students,” said DLR Group Principal Pam Loeffelman, FAIA.
The team from Smoky Hill High School was made up of freshmen and International Baccalaureate students Omar Ahram, Lauren Boye, Gabe Gould and Megan Lie. They competed with teams from Colorado’s Thompson School District, Arizona’s Marana USD and Texas’ Klein ISD. The student teams were tasked with crafting a challenge statement using Career Technical Pathways and STEM Concepts around a mission to colonize Mars. The teams had to create a video to share at NSBA outlining the research they uncovered prior to arriving at the conference.
Boye said her team met about five times in the month before the challenge to develop a solution to this challenge: “Create a way to develop an affordable, sustainable food supply for the colonization of Mars that will develop future training and teaching opportunities that can be used back on Earth.” The team developed what the judges called “a thorough and well-researched solution” that included hydroponics, fish cultivation and other sustainable agriculture to help colonize Mars. The group also created a digital Prezi presentation to share their plan at the conference. But things started a little differently than they expected.
“They put in a twist on the day we got there,” Boye explained. “All four groups had to work together on transportation to Mars. It was cool getting to work with all different types of people, different personalities.”
After the group project, each team gave their individual presentation for conference attendees.
“I definitely was nervous,” Boye said. “But we put in some jokes which made us more comfortable. It turned out really great.”
In fact, the judges were so impressed with the clarity of the Smoky Hill students’ presentation and use of humor, as well as their easy-to-follow format and detailed documentation, that they selected Smoky Hill as the overall challenge winner. Each team member received a $250 gift card and ended up with another accomplishment to add to their growing resumes.