CALDWELL, Idaho — Student teams from across Idaho competed at the 2022 Idaho exhibition of Ideas held at the One Stone School in Boise on March 12.
The Syringa Middle School team from Caldwell earned first place in the junior division, while the team from Project Impact STEM Academy in Kuna won first place in the senior division.
The event is one of two regional Idaho Exhibitions of Ideas (IDX) Idaho STEM Action Center hosts annually. The student teams presented their solutions at IDX in front of a panel of judges and a public audience for review and feedback.
Syringa Middle School's all-girl team, Little Einsteins, designed a solution that would help astronauts brush their teeth in zero gravity. The girls' sixth-grade teacher, Kristy Rudan, led the team, comprised of Adylene Amaya, Raeneasha Linze, Maritza Medina, and Natalia Valencia.
Project Impact STEM Academy's team, Awkward Turtles, conceptualized a trash-collecting spaceship to harvest old satellites, rocketry, and other space junk. The students' high school agriculture teacher, Athea Prilllaman led the team, comprised of Michael Domeny, Ava Percy, and Tyler Percy.
Each winning team won a $350 3D printer, provided by POWER Engineers, and a $250 cash prize, one donated by Cradlepoint and the other from the Sahai Family Foundation.
Students from Basin Elementary School in Idaho City and West Junior High School in Boise earned second place in the junior and senior divisions, respectively, with both teams winning a $300 cash prize, also donated by Cradlepoint and the Sahai Family Foundation.
Makeshift Spaceships, Basin Elementary's team, designed an array of fidgets and games to help keep astronauts entertained on the International Space Station. Sixth-grade teacher ReBekha Lulu led the team, which was comprised of Brielle Harvey, Breeanna McKown, Iris Olvera, Blake Taylor, Bailey Vigeant, and Whitney Watson.
Intergalactic Mustangs, West Junior High's team, investigated the idea of outfitting spaceships with solar sails. Tina Roehr, a retired school librarian, led the team comprised of Tye Bayley, Ella Faler, Jovani Lopez, Will Peterson, Aubrey Sunderland, and Cailyn Sunderland.
Student teams from Pepper Ridge Elementary School in the West Ada School District and Gooding Middle School earned third place in the junior and senior divisions, respectively, with each team winning $250 cash from Idaho STEM Action Center's end of year giving campaign.
STARS, Pepper Ridge's team, focused on creating art in zero gravity and designed a special paint tray with brushes for astronauts aboard the International Space Station. Librarian Cheryl Fife led the team comprised of Conrad Castleton, Carter Ecklund, Molly Hessing, Chloe Holyoak, Cody Johnson, Gabe Ronnow, and Kaitlyn Tepfer.
Space Magicians, Gooding Middle School's team, worked on a "cybertruck" concept for exploring and analyzing the surface of other planets. Rebecca Larsen, STEM teacher, led the team, which was comprised of Conner Barnett, Itzyana Barrios, Claira Burnett, De Gallup, Sebastian Gonzales, Evelyn Hocklander, Jhared Huarilloclla, Lesli Lopez, Omar Mendez, and Liliana Nicholas.
Ten teams took part in the Treasure Valley showcase, with teams from Barbara Morgan STEM Academy in Meridian and Hawthorne Elementary School in Boise and two teams from Richard McKenna Charter School in Mountain Home also participating.
IDX is the culmination of a project started last summer after Idaho STEM Action Center trained and equipped teachers attending the annual i-STEM Institutes professional development conferences, offered at six locations throughout the state.
Teachers that attended IDX returned home to assemble teams for the 3D competition.
Once assembled, each team identified a space exploration issue that could be addressed using 3D printing and digital fabrication, then the teams developed and documented their product that would help resolve that issue.
According to STEM Action Center executive director Dr. Kaitlin Maguire, competitions like IDX are important to the future of Idaho.
"IDX is designed to equip students with the practical, technical, and creative skills needed to engage with the real-world problems of today and tomorrow," Dr. Maguire said. "Competitions like IDX help students develop durable skills like creative thinking, problem-solving, innovation, and collaboration, plus it helps them understand the cognitive design process. Idaho employers value these skills, and these experiences better prepare students for future success in high-demand STEM careers."
Maguire also said STEM jobs in Idaho are projected to grow 15.4% by 2030, which outpaces the national average of STEM job growth at 10%.
The STEM Action Center will be hosting a regional IDX showcase at Idaho State University in Pocatello on April 8. Three teams from North Idaho will compete virtually at that event, with 34 organizations statewide, including 200 students and 60 educators and coaches, participating this year.
For more information, visit the Idaho STEM website.
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