Toshiba and the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) announced the regional winners of the 23rd annual ExploraVision program today. The world’s largest K-12 science competition, ExploraVision is designed to build problem-solving, critical thinking and collaboration skills that are central to the Next Generation Science Standards. The program’s winning ideas include innovative advancements in wearable technology, safety devices, sustainability, and disease detection and treatment. The 24 winning teams will advance to the national phase of the competition where students have a chance to win $10,000 U.S. Series EE Savings Bonds (at maturity) and other great prizes. The winning teams will also receive a Toshiba laptop for their school, and each member of the team will receive a Toshiba Excite™ Tablet.
ExploraVision participants provide a glimpse into the next generation’s vision for our future by imagining what technology might be like in 20 years. Students proposed ideas for new technology based on a challenge or limitation of what already exists and simulated real scientific research to outline how they plan to test their idea. To further illustrate their concepts, students built webpages including a short video to communicate their ideas to the public.
“This year’s regional ExploraVision winners represent the scientists, innovators and engineers of tomorrow,” said Mr. Masaaki Osumi, Toshiba America Inc.’s Chairman and CEO, and Toshiba’s Corporate Representative for the Americas. “Toshiba created the ExploraVision program with the NSTA to recognize students at the forefront of scientific thinking. With this year marking the 50th anniversary of Toshiba’s operations in the United States, we are extremely proud of our winners and what they have been able to accomplish in this landmark year for the company.“
Several winning projects took a nod from one of today’s technological trends and imagined the wearable technology devices of the future. Fifth and sixth grade students from Dallas, TX envisioned DeHydra DH, a wearable device that uses sweat to monitor dehydration levels to help prevent athletes from heat exhaustion or stroke while active, and third graders from San Diego, CA created SportaVision, a pair of smart goggles that transport users into virtual reality soccer, football or volleyball games using GPS technology and radio waves. Other wearable tech projects seek to aid those with disabilities, like the Mini Camera Contact Lenses developed by fourth graders in Madison, CT that use nanotechnology to create an artificial pupil for individuals with impaired vision.
Other regional winners focused their projects on the environment, reimagining ways to preserve nature. Seeking to eliminate e-waste from the disposal of electronic devices, sixth graders from Land O’Lakes, FL created The Green Tablet, a device that is comprised of biodegradable electronic components, a sugary battery and a reusable graphene shell. The device not only dissolves in water to reduce e-waste, but it also emits enzymes that help generate electricity to power other products. Third grade students from Merion Station, PA also focused on bettering the environment and created S.T.A.R., the Sea Turtle Assistance Rod. The S.T.A.R. rescue pack includes night vision cameras, temperature and motion sensors and solar cells that help protect sea turtle hatchlings as they journey to the ocean.
Many winning teams developed technologies to help medical professionals with early detection and prevention of serious diseases, including diabetes, Ebola, Alzheimer’s disease, cerebral palsy and ALS. Ninth graders from Rye Brook, NY created PACI, a machine that utilizes a PET scan, radionuclides and a scale to detect Alzheimer’s disease up to ten years before symptoms appear. Tenth graders from Duluth, GA created the External Microbial Cleansing Device (EMCD), an innovative device that treats microbial pathogens and toxins in the bloodstream that cause millions of death worldwide in the form of diseases like sepsis and AIDS. The EMCD uses magnetic nanobeads attached to artificially-engineered proteins to capture and remove bacteria, fungi, viruses and toxins within the bloodstream. Sixth graders in San Francisco, CA invented GEbolaL to protect doctors and nurses treating Ebola patients. The protective suit is more comfortable and flexible than the ones used today, but is covered in a special gel that prevents the germs from penetrating the material.
“Each year, the ExploraVision program places students at the forefront of innovation, and serves as an inspirational reminder of Toshiba/NSTA’s continued effort to inspire ingenuity,” said Dr. David Evans, NSTA Executive Director. “By encouraging students to explore their natural curiosity, the program motivates them to tackle real-life issues and envision viable solutions. We congratulate the regional winning teams on their impressive work and commend the educators and mentors for supporting their students’ effort to explore science to benefit their communities and society as a whole.”
The twenty-four regional winners will advance to the national competition. Members of first place nationally winning teams each receive a $10,000 U.S. Series EE Savings Bond (at maturity). Members of second place nationally winning teams will each receive a $5,000 U.S. Series EE Savings Bond (at maturity). Canadian winners receive Canada bonds purchased for the equivalent issue price in Canadian dollars. All first and second place national winners will receive an expense paid trip for their parents/guardians, teacher and mentors to Washington, D.C. for a gala awards weekend in June 2015. Students will meet with members of Congress during a visit to Capitol Hill and display their winning ideas during a Science Showcase. The Toshiba/NSTA ExploraVision weekend concludes with a gala awards banquet and ceremony where winners will be formally recognized for their creativity and accomplishments.
Since its inception in 1992, close to 350,000 students from across the United States and Canada have participated in the ExploraVision program. The program helps children expand their imagination and have fun while developing an interest in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education at an early age.