2019 Innovation Games challenges talented students


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Gemini Elementary School students Maximus Carl, left, Gabriella D’Elia, center, and Riley Dwyer, second from right, show off their tie-dye lab coats with teachers Caryn Good and Rodger Cohen during Day 1 of the Innovation Games.

AUSTIN RUSHNELL

One of the greatest sources of creative invention isn’t actually some stuffy boardroom in a think-tank — it’s inside the young and vigorous minds of today’s STEAM-driven school children.

STEAM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts and Mathematics. It is the core focus of many of Brevard’s schools.

Brevard Public Schools recently partnered with technology leaders, including Boeing and NASA, to host the inaugural Innovation Games. The Innovation Games are a series of competitions held for schools around Brevard in which they compete in STEAM-focused challenges. The teams were made up of sixth-grade students  from both standard and magnet schools, public and private.

The first day of the Innovation Games was held Feb. 28 at the Brevard County School District (BCSD) center in Viera.

One of the largest competitions during the first day was the Destination Mars build. Students gathered in the center of the BCSD building complex to showcase projects that demonstrated how future astronauts might survive on Mars.

These projects focused on not only maintaining homeostasis within the living quarters of the build, but also on promoting expansion. One build suggested that astronauts bring frozen fish eggs to Mars and, once landed, thaw them and promote a new colony of fresh, living fish.

There were many other competitions held throughout the BCSD complex, including rooms for testing robotic builds, building wearable technology, and even coding within a Minecraft server.

“The most interesting (project) would have to be one student from West Melbourne School of Science,” said Gifted teacher Amanda Howell. “Just his detail to everything; the coding factor that he put into (his project, especially,) because he could use all the basic (coding), but he added more.”

Within the Minecraft coding challenge, students were asked to design and build a living structure for research on Mars, within the world of the game of Minecraft.

“(The student) was adding so much more code that our Carlos, who works for Microsoft, was saying that Microsoft would hire him in a heartbeat,” Howell added.

The second day of the Innovation Games was held March 8 at the Florida Solar Energy Center. Once again, students gathered together to compete in science and technology challenges.

“The key is to create a culture where kids are doing things where they can then use in the future for job opportunities,” said Brevard County School Board Member (District 4) Matt Susin. “So when you go and see the drone races, it’s not about the drone racing. It’s about them building the drone, using the 3-D printer, using all of the components that are there.”

While this was the first year for students to compete in the Innovation Games, planning for next year is already underway.