STEM | News

2013 ExploraVision Science Competition Opens

Toshiba and the National Science Teachers Association have kicked off the 2013 ExploraVision Program. The annual student science competition, now in its 21st year, is open to K-12 students in the United States and Canada, offering prizes of up to $10,000. The competition is administered by the NSTA and underwritten by Toshiba.

In the ExploraVision competition, teams of two to four students (along with a coach and mentor) choose a technology that's currently in use and explore what the technology does and how it came about; then they imagine the possibilities of what that technology could be like in the future and what problems it could solve that it doesn't solve now.

To date, some 300,000 students have submitted projects to the competition. And, according to the organizers, some schools have even made the competition a part of their regular science curriculum.

"The key to cultivating and sustaining the next generation's interest in science, technology, engineering and math is to engage them in discovery and innovation," said Gerry Wheeler, interim executive director of the NSTA, in a prepared statement. "The ExploraVision program not only teaches important lessons about real science through critical-thinking and cooperative learning, it provides an excellent way to spark the imagination of students in the STEM disciplines."

This year's competition differs somewhat from past competitions, bringing changes that are designed to align it "more closely with the National Research Council's (NRC) Framework for K-12 Science Education, which will help define science education for the next 20 years and become a foundation for the development of the Next Generation Science Standards." Some of those changes include:

  • A requirement for students two write an overview of their project and define a "key challenge" of the technology;
  • A requirement for students to "describe a research project that would have to be planned and carried out in order to test their ExploraVision project"; and
  • The creation of sample Web pages depicting the technology.

Students will compete in one of four groups: primary (K-3), upper elementary (4-6), middle level (7-9), and high school (10-12). (Younger students can participate in groups one level above their actual grade level.)

There are two phases in the competition. In the first phase, 24 teams will be named regional winners and advance to the second phase. First-phase winners are chosen in each of the designated regions in which the competition takes place. Winners from the first phase receive a gift and win a Toshiba laptop and software for their schools.

In the second phase, teams create a Web site showcasing their projects. Judges then choose eight winning national teams. Members of the four first-place teams each receive a $10,000 savings bond. Second-place winners receive a $5,000 savings bond. All eight finalists will receive a trip to the ExploraVision Awards Weekend in Washington, DC in June. Students from each of the 24 regional winners will receive a Toshiba Camileo camcorder and an awards ceremony to be held at their school, as well as other gifts.

In addition, the teacher who submits the most eligible projects in a given category will receive a Toshiba tablet, while the school submitting the most projects will receive $1,000 in Toshiba gear.

Entries for the competition are due Jan. 31, 2013. Complete details and entry materials can be found at exploravision.org.

About the Author

David Nagel is the executive producer for 1105 Media's online K-12 and higher education publications and electronic newsletters. He can be reached at dnagel@1105media.com. He can now be followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/THEJournalDave (K-12) or http://twitter.com/CampusTechDave (higher education). You can also connect with him on LinkedIn at http://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=10390192.

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