Contest winners will be determined by public vote through Nov. 18.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Burns & McDonnell has named the top 20 finalists in its Battle of the Brains competition. The finalists were determined over the past several days in a judging round conducted by experts from Science City at Union Station and from Burns & McDonnell. The finalists were selected from a pool of 560 entries from 128 different schools in 35 school districts throughout the metropolitan area. A total of 2,465 students participated on 456 teams who submitted entries for the contest.
"We are thrilled with the response and amazed at the creativity, enthusiasm and ingenuity displayed by kids of all ages," said Melissa Lavin-Hickey, director of the Burns & McDonnell Foundation. "It was very difficult to pick the 20 finalists who will now advance on to the voting round. We especially want to thank the teachers, administrators and volunteers who helped these students brainstorm ideas and develop their concepts into plans that can be turned into an actual exhibit at Science City."
The Top 10 Entries: Elementary School Division
Pleasant Lea Elementary, Lee's Summit School District
It's all about insects on Bug Street, where science mixes with amusement park fun to give you a bugs-eye view of these fascinating creatures. Start in the Shrinking Room, with a sloped ceiling that makes visitors feel bug-sized. Then hop on a BUGster, a not-scary ride that guides you through the exhibit, offering insect facts from speakers in your bug vehicle.
Different Experiences, Parallel Lives
Leawood Elementary, Blue Valley School District
Different Experiences, Parallel Lives gives you a new perspective on everyday efforts. Have you ever wondered how a person with a visual impairment uses a smart phone, or how hard it is to wheel up a wheelchair ramp? This exhibit answers those questions and more, allowing visitors to explore how people with different abilities look at life in different ways. This understanding increases familiarity and-with hope-leads to greater understanding. People may talk about these differences, but it is more meaningful for you to physically experience them.
Woodland Elementary, Lee's Summit School District
Digest Quest gets your brain working and body moving as you follow two charming characters named Gob Gum and Penny Popcorn through the digestive system. Track their journey throughout the stomach and intestines to understand how the workings of the digestive system impact them, because only one of these food friends will make it through the entire system unscathed.
Leawood Elementary, Blue Valley School District
Energy Remix takes on a big question: how will we survive when nonrenewable energy is running out? The answer lies in a trend that's become so popular it's moved beyond a trend into a way of life-green energy. Here, visitors will learn all about wind, geothermal and solar energy through hands-on exhibits and interaction with real-world sustainable technology.
Hall of Magnets
Richardson Elementary, Lee's Summit School District
The Hall of Magnets draws visitors in with the promise of interactive fun. Here, playing with magnets reaches far beyond the concepts of "attract" and "repel." Magnets are a timeless subject with strong scientific principles that serve as the foundation for advanced topics in science and engineering.
Navigating the Air: An Aeronautic Adventure
Red Bridge Elementary, Center School District
Almost everyone has dreamed about flight at one time or another, either as a passenger or a pilot. Navigating the Air explores how that dream has become a reality, from the first flying machine to today's efficient transportation of people and cargo. You'll get a glimpse into the world of flight, explore the idea of piloting your own craft and create aircraft designs for the future.
R.A.M.P Robot-Assisted Medical Procedures
Hawthorne & Southview elementary schools, Kearney School District
R.A.M.P lets you explore one of the hottest trends in medicine: robot surgery. Inspired by the popular childhood game Operation, this exhibit offers visitors a chance to perform a mock surgery using a robotic arm. A variety of sensors on major organs (depicting popular areas of real robotic surgeries) keeps the "doctor" on track. But robotic surgery is not a game; it represents the blending of medical procedures with advanced technology.
The Space Place
Cordill Mason Elementary, Blue Springs School District
The Space Place explores the wonders of space, from the life of a star to what it feels like to actually venture into our galaxy. You'll be inspired to explore the world beyond our planet and come away with a better understanding of our earth and sky.
The Tornado Experience
Fleetridge Elementary, Raytown School District
In the Midwest, close encounters with tornados or tornado warnings are inevitable. For some kids, that interaction can be pretty scary. The Tornado Experience aims to reveal more of the science behind tornados to alleviate some of the fear associated with these events. This exhibit demonstrates the rarity of all the variables coming together to create this phenomenon.
YOU! The Experience
Valley Park Elementary, Blue Valley School District
You! The Experience takes you into unexplored territory. It's not Mars or the Amazon Rainforest, but something a bit closer to home: YOU! This exhibit would allow Science City visitors to explore their bodies in a whole new way.
The Top 10 Entries: Secondary School Division
Big Bang and Beyond
Turner High School
Chemistry, atoms, elements...it's a pretty interesting scientific word out there. In Big Bang and Beyond, you'll learn how these essentials came together to build the universe. Inspired by the theme song to the popular scientific-themed sitcom "The Big Bang Theory", this exhibit uses interactive exhibits and playground elements to explore the universe.
LEARN Science & Math Club, Home School
The idea of creating structures has universal appeal. We live and play in impressive examples of engineering and planning. Equally remarkable are the things that kids are inspired to build: miniature houses, castles and other cool structures. City Imagineerium takes its inspiration from the cities around us and the natural enthusiasm for building to explore the world of design, engineering and construction.
Elements of Modern Living and Power
Olathe East High School
Energy is power, literally. How energy is used and created greatly impacts our country and our world, so it's valuable to understand the various types of available energy. In the Elements of Modern Living and Power exhibit, interactive displays impart knowledge about hydro, aero, thermo, electro and nuclear power in fun and thought-provoking ways.
Forces of Nature
Belton High School
Throughout history, natural disasters have claimed millions of lives and destroyed countless properties. Because these devastating events often happen unexpectedly, being prepared is the best action. Forces of Nature provides you with a foundation of knowledge, increasing your preparedness regarding natural disasters.
Magnetic Science and Technologies
Olathe East High School
The laws of magnetism play a much larger part in our lives than most people realize. Magnets are in computers, cranes, trains and nature; there's even a magnetic sphere around earth. Magnetic Science and Technologies uses playful activities to explore how magnets are applicable to your daily world.
Science City ER
Blue Springs School District (Project Lead the Way)
Healthcare today is far different than the county doctors of generations past. Science City ER explores how technology has revolutionized the way healthcare is provided, from checking emergency room wait times online to reviewing a patient file in a concise, electronic format. This exhibit lets you explore the interaction between technology and medicine within an interactive hospital setting.
Westridge Middle School, Shawnee Mission School District
Weather affects your life, from how you dress to whether or not bad weather cancels school. At times, it impacts people even more dramatically, with storms that can make permanent changes to a community. Storm Center uses technology to explore both the science and impact of weather conditions.
Shawnee Mission South High School
Flight has long fascinated the human race, but how many people understand exactly how a plane stays in the air? Taking Flight covers the science and technology of aviation, as well as the principles behind how aircraft and rockets function. The airplane-shaped exhibit takes you on a journey through the four forces of flight, types of engines and piloting through relevant, hands-on elements.
Olathe North High School
Energy powers the world, and the consumption and use of energy drives the Unplugged experience. You'll discover that all energy is fundamentally the same by working with interactive elements to turn your mechanical power into other forms of energy. While you're moving, watching and playing, you'll also be learning about the fundamentals of light and sound.
Lansing High School
Water is essential to life. It's a vitally important element for almost every organism, but one we often take for granted. Water Extravaganza aims to shine a spotlight on water, examining the water cycle as well as water power, pressure and hydraulics. Visit the exhibit-shaped like an H2O molecule-and leave with your thirst for water knowledge quenched.
Experts from Science City and Burns & McDonnell evaluated the entries according to the competition's criteria and narrowed the entries to 20 finalists, 10 each from the elementary and secondary divisions. The judges' ranking of the top 20 accounts for 70 percent of the final rankings. The remaining 30 percent of the final rankings will be determined by a public vote at www.battleofthebrainskc.com from November 11 to November 18 at 5 p.m. Everyone with an eligible email address can vote once per day for their favorite entry, in Kansas City and across the country.
The Battle of the Brains Contest is divided into an Elementary Division and a Secondary Schools Division. Winners in the elementary and secondary divisions will each earn a $50,000 grant to support STEM (science technology, math and engineering) education in their schools. Two runners-up in each division will earn $5,000 each, and the remaining 14 honorable mention winners will earn $1,000 each. One group of students will see their design constructed in Science City at Union Station during 2012.
The Battle of the Brains winners will be announced at an event on November 21. Students who submitted the 20 finalist entries will be invited to attend this announcement and celebration event beginning at 9:30 a.m. in Science City at Union Station.
Schools in the Top 20 are encouraged to create a "Get Out the Vote" strategy to encourage public votes. Resources are available at www.battleofthebrainskc.com/resources.