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Conrad Foundation Sponsors Spirit of Innovation Challenge To Promote STEM Learning

The Conrad Foundation has launched the 2011-2012 Spirit of Innovation Challenge to encourage students to embrace science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) learning to solve global issues.

The competition seeks to motivate students to create technologies and products that meet contemporary challenges.

"If we are to ignite passion for STEM education, we must embrace an academic plan to focus on the relevance of the knowledge we share with our students," said Nancy Conrad, founder and chairman of the Conrad Foundation. "Memorizing facts to pass a test just won't do the job. The hallmark of America's culture is innovation and entrepreneurship. It's how we got to the moon. It's how companies like Apple, Facebook and Google were formed. It is how our country will continue to explore the universe, discover cures for disease and become good stewards of the world we share with our global neighbors."

The competition asks high school teams to create commercially viable technology-based products in one of three categories: aerospace exploration, clean energy, and health and nutrition.

"Using a network of world-renowned scientists, engineers, academics, and business leaders, the competition connects teams with mentors to assist in making their ideas a reality," said Jennifer Fotherby, executive director, Spirit of Innovation Challenge.

Each category's top five teams will then advance to the annual Innovation Summit at the NASA-Ames Research Center March 29-31, 2012. There, the teams will present their projects as they compete for award, commercial opportunities, and the chance to advance further.

"The Conrad Foundation is also currently in discussion with the Department of State about sending the winners of the 2011-2012 Spirit of Innovation Challenge to Rio de Janeiro in June 2012 during the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development," according to information provided by the foundation.

Sponsors and partners for the competition include:

The experts, judges, and mentors will be provided by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics FoundationThe William James Foundation, and the American Society for Nutrition.

For information on eligibility requirements and to apply for the competition, visit