Judges Surprise Students in Class Revealing They Are Top 20 Finalists in the Burns & McDonnell Battle of the Brains Competition
Judges Surprise Students in Class Revealing They Are Top 20 Finalists in the Burns & McDonnell Battle of the Brains Competition
Judges Surprise Students in Class Revealing They Are Top 20 Finalists in the Burns & McDonnell Battle of the Brains Competition
11/16/2017 3 minute read

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. (Nov. 16, 2017) — After reviewing a record number of submissions, judges chose a unique way to tell 20 student teams they are finalists in the Burns & McDonnell Battle of the Brains, Kansas City’s favorite K-12 competition for science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). Armed with everything from streamers and banners to popcorn and pennants, the judges surprised the winners in their classrooms and hand-delivered invitations to the Nov. 30 Battle of the Brains awards ceremony at Union Station. 

“The students and teachers were screaming, hugging and jumping up and down. It was truly one of the most special moments of my career,” says Ray Kowalik, chairman and CEO, Burns & McDonnell, who was part of the surprise caravan traveling to 20 winning schools in the metro. 


The top 20 finalists in the Burns & McDonnell Battle of the Brains, their district and their exhibit title, are:

  • Focus Program-CAIR Building; Grandview (MO); The Big Brain Theory

  • Wolf Springs Elementary; Blue Valley (KS); Geology ROCKS!

  • Blue Springs High School; Blue Springs (MO); Sound of Science

  • Cordill-Mason Elementary; Blue Springs (MO); Magical Me

  • Delta Woods Middle School; Blue Springs (MO); Going Viral: Making Learning Infectious

  • Olathe East High School; Olathe (KS); The Magic of Magnets

  • Olathe North High School; Olathe (KS); Makes Sense

  • Merriam Park Elementary; Shawnee Mission (KS); Journey to the Abyss

  • Tonganoxie High School; Tonganoxie (KS); City of Lights

  • The Barstow School; Private (MO); Mission: Cosmos

  • John Paul II; Private (KS); Power of the Swarm: From Nature to Robots

  • Eudora High School, Eudora (KS), Living the Green Dream

  • Summit Technology Academy; Lee’s Summit (MO); Science Stadium

  • Lee’s Summit High School; Lee’s Summit (MO); Perfect Timing

  • Hawthorn Hill Elementary; Lee’s Summit (MO); Mesozoic Mayhem

  • Alexander Doniphan Elementary; Liberty (MO); Math Mania 2

  • Liberty North High School; Liberty (MO); Full STEAM Ahead

  • Alexander Doniphan Elementary; Liberty (MO); Captivating Chemistry

  • Ridgeview Elementary; Liberty (MO); Cranium Craze

  • Northland Innovation Center/SAGE Center; North Kansas City (MO); Colorful Science

Each top 20 finalist team is guaranteed to win a piece of $155,000 in grant money to use toward STEM education. The grand prize-winning team will receive a $50,000 grant, along with the opportunity to work alongside Burns & McDonnell and Science City STEM professionals to transform the winning idea into a $1 million permanent exhibit at Science City. 

This year, participation in Battle of the Brains hit a record level: 

  • 7,000 students
  • 250 schools
  • 820 submissions
  • 55 school districts

“Participation rose nearly 60 percent since the last competition,” Kowalik says. “Our goal is to continue the momentum and keep that STEM spark burning.”

Judges, comprised of STEM professionals from Burns & McDonnell and Science City, followed a stringent evaluation process to rank entries according to specific criteria, ranging from creativity and inspiration to how interactive and engaging the exhibit could be with visitors.

The public weighs in for the final round of the judging process beginning Friday, Nov. 17. Everyone is invited to vote for their favorite entry by going to www.BOTBKC.com. There were more than 70,000 votes cast during the last competition. Online voting ends at 11:59 p.m. Nov. 24, 2017.

About Burns & McDonnell 

Burns & McDonnell is a company made up of more than 5,700 engineers, architects, construction professionals, scientists, consultants and entrepreneurs with offices across the country and throughout the world. We strive to create amazing success for our clients and amazing careers for our employee-owners. Burns & McDonnell is 100 percent employee-owned and is proud to be No. 16 on FORTUNE’s 2017 list of 100 Best Companies to Work For.

About Science City, Kansas City’s Science Center

Internationally awarded for “Visitor Experience” by ASTC and named one of the country’s TOP 25 science centers, Science City annually educates and entertains hundreds of thousands of science-thirsty children of all ages. Kansas City’s Science Center — opened in 1999 — is THE place for inquisitive young minds to create, explore, and experiment with the BIG world of science through hands-on learning and non-stop fun. Featuring over 200 interactive exhibits and host to countless STEM-based events — including the annual Greater Kansas City Science & Engineering Fair — Science City leads the region in recognition from educators, parents, caregivers AND children alike.

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