Archive for Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Battle of Brains: Online voting could net Tonganoxie High $50,000 for STEM classes

November 22, 2017

Some surprise news at Tonganoxie High School revealed a chance for THS to receive $50,000 for science, engineering, technology and math programs.— thanks to online voting.

THS is a finalist for the Burns & McDonnell Battle of the Brains competition.

The THS group is one of 20 elementary, middle and high school teams in the Kansas City metro to be named finalists.

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

Participation in the competition hit an all-time high this year, including a nearly 60 percent increase from 2016. There were 820 submissions from 250 schools that spanned 55 school districts. A total of 7,000 students participated.

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

Now it’s up to online voters to decide the top exhibit.

Voters can go to and find the Tonganoxie entry. Voting is limited to one vote per email per day, with the contest ending Friday.

The top school could earn $50,000 in STEM grants. Plus, students of the winning team would help Burns & McDonnell engineers build a million-dollar version of their exhibit at Science City.

Tonganoxie’s exhibit is called City of Lights. According to a description on the website, the Tonganoxie exhibit focuses on the science, applications and influence of light in everyday life. Each activity demonstrates a different aspect of the behavior of light — from the wavelengths of colors to the unique emission spectra from stars.

THS students also were required to submit a video as part of the entry explaining the different areas of the exhibit.

Again, descriptions on the website are as follows:

Move mirrors to direct a laser through a maze. When you hit a target, it projects fun facts about the history and use of laser light.

Understand how absorption and reflection influence our color perception when you move colored and polarized filters in the path of a projected white light.

Explore the interaction of light and chemistry with gas discharge tubes filled with different elements.

Race different colored light waves in the Rainbow Race, then make your own shadow puppets in an interactive shadow room.

Look through spectroscopes to view representations of planets, stars and astronomical bodies.

Light up a dance floor where the tiles change color when pressure is applied!

Voting ends at 11:59 p.m. Friday.

Students from the 20 teams have been invited to an awards ceremony Nov. 30 at Union Station where winners will be announced. There are 13 Missouri schools and seven Kansas schools represented among this year’s finalists. Tonganoxie and Eudora high schools are the smallest schools on the Kansas side to be finalists.


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