SAN JOSE — Innovation comes in all forms. Just ask S.A.F.E. — or the Security Administration For Earthquakes — the five-member Miller Middle School and Kennedy Middle School squad that competed Saturday in the record-making 25th Annual The Tech Challenge. Students were charged with creating a device to pluck a “survivor” from an earthquake-ravaged bridge. S.A.F.E. cobbled together a solution made of magnets and PVC half-inch pipes, an Altoid container, and a sock, said team member Aditya Kotak, 14.
And while their ingenuity didn’t garner the top prize of the day (the team did win 2nd Place for Best Engineering Design Journal), it was representative of the myriad ways more than 1,400 students from around the Bay Area creatively went about solving this year’s The Tech 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.
“Today we saw the future of Silicon Valley, and the future is bright,” said Tim Ritchie, president of The Tech Museum.
A signature program of The Tech Museum, The Tech Challenge celebrates its 25th year and has proven 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.
“There is no other challenge like this in the area, and it gets bigger and bigger every year,” said Blair Christie, senior vice president and chief marketing officer at Cisco and board member at The Tech Museum.
Next year’s contest — Comet Connection — challenges students to accurately land a device onto a comet.
For 25 years, The Tech Challenge has allowed nearly 15,500 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.
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.
The Grand Prize in this category went to all-girl teams in 5-6 grade categories and high school. 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
Grand Prize: FBI — Federal Bridge Investigators — Cupertino High School
2nd Place: The Copper Sulfate Mollusks — Cupertino High School
3rd Place: EVAC — Fremont Home School
Grades 7 and 8 — Best Overall Solution
Grand Prize: M&M BUGs — Berkeley Oakland Homeschoolers
2nd Place: The Cheese Bubs, Hillview Middle School
3rd Place: 1-800-SAVE-US-NOW, Lawson Middle School
Grades 5 and 6 — Best Overall Solution
Grand Prize: Rock N’ Roll Rumblers – Saint John Vianney Catholic School
2nd Place: Rescue Recruits
3rd Place: Fiery Phoenixes – Discovery Charter School
Other teams — many of which were all-girl squads — took home prizes for their achievement in Engineering, Device Performance, Teamwork, Creativity, Style and Presentation. View the complete list of winners.
Other corporate sponsors include: SAP, Intel, EMC, JPMorgan Chase, Motorola Solutions Foundation, Fairchild Semiconductor, Wells Fargo, Tellabs Foundation, Xilinx, Ernst & Young, The Tech Museum’s Emeritus Board, VMware, Genentech, Symantec, SanDisk, TE Connectivity, Flextronics, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, AMD, PMC-Sierra, IBM, Hitachi Data Systems, ScholarShare, The David H. Liu Foundation, SVForum Tech Women’s Program, Team San Jose, NBC Bay Area, KTSF, Make: makezine.com, Bay Area News Group.
Director 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 presented by Cisco, 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 present and encourages the development of innovative ideas for a more promising future.