For 27 years, The Tech Challenge, a signature program of The Tech Museum of Innovation, has inspired creativity and equipped students with hands-on experiences in engineering design and real-world problem solving. In recognition of the museum’s continued efforts in STEM, it was named a recipient of this year’s Noyce Foundation “Bright Lights Community Engagement Award” for the the museum’s annual design and engineering program.
“This award is a tremendous honor for The Tech,” explained President Tim Ritchie. “The prize will be used to deepen The Tech Challenge’s penetration into communities that need it most — those full of kids who are at the margins of the mainstream, for whom deep engagement with science and technology is more elusive than it should be.”
Each year, The Tech Challenge program presents a project geared to solving a real-world problem and teaches the complete engineering process — research, brainstorm, design, prototype, test, iterate. The program, which attracts more than 2,000 students, culminates with two event days during which teams of students present their innovations to volunteer judges from the Silicon Valley technology world. Throughout its history, The Tech Challenge has steadily increased participation among low-income children and girls through targeted and effective community outreach. In fact, nearly 40% of participants are from low-income families and 45% are girls.
In a pool of 94 applicants judged through three rounds, The Tech was one of seven winners. In addition to The Tech, the winners included Explora (Albuquerque, NM); the Hands On Children’s Museum (Olympia, WA); the Science Museum of Minnesota (St. Paul, MN); the Monterey Bay Aquarium; the Museum of Science and Industry (Tampa, FL); and The Franklin Institute (Philadelphia, PA).
“The program’s success in engaging low-income kids and girls has been remarkable,” the Noyce Foundation wrote.
With the emergence of the Maker Movement, a growing number of schools and museums are creating new programs to enable a greater convergence of both art and technology. Many would compare this “new industrial revolution” as the combination of the old shop class spirit with modern-day technology in do-it-yourself spaces.
Atmel would like to congratulate The Tech Challenge for its recent accomplishment. Keep up the good work!