An International Preschool-Grade 12 Academy 

GEMS Global Design Challenge celebrates innovation

GEMS World Academy Chicago hosted the first annual GEMS Global Design Challenge on April 21-22, bringing together young innovators from all over the city to work on projects with a distinguished group of adult mentors.

The two-day event challenged teams of students in grades 5 through 10 to design and create solutions to one of the following U.N. Global Goals for Sustainable Development: No Poverty, Life Below Water, Gender Equality, Life on Land, and Clean Water & Sanitation. The event was supported with resources and materials from the United Nations Association Chicago, National Geographic, CREATE Lab, Lemelson-MIT and Codeverse.

The decision to host the challenge stemmed from our ongoing commitment to global citizenship and leading by innovation.
“Young people were provided an opportunity to use creative problem solving to consider opportunities for local action,” Interim Head of School Andrew Sherman said. “By designing solutions through critical-thinking and prototyping exercises, students become agents of change and contributing to their community.”
The projects developed during the challenge were innovative and useful. One team of students, for example, designed a remote-operated vehicle (ROV) that could collect trash from the world’s oceans. Another team worked on a device that would prevent methane gas from entering the atmosphere and contributing to global warming.
All of the students who participated in the Global Design Challenge were guided by 10 adult mentors and 3 judges from National Geographic, UNA Chicago, Accenture, Carnegie Mellon, local design studios and more. The mentors showed participants how their work in school can develop into real global impact, said Peg Keiner, director of innovation at GEMS.
The winning teams shared $15,000 in prize money dedicated to resources and education to further develop winning ideas. The top prize went to Izzy from the Latin School of Chicago and Tobi from GEMS World Academy Chicago. These students completed the methane gas project. Raffle prizes were awarded to many participants and one special winner was selected to receive a buy into the InvenTeams competition by Lemelson-MIT.
Our Design Challenge was covered by WGN television and WBBM radio.
GEMS World Academy Chicago, which combines a robust STEM program and the rigorous International Baccalaureate curriculum framework, encourages students to be critical thinkers and creative problem solvers. We are preparing students to effect positive change in the world as future global leaders. The GEMS Global Design Challenge was an example of this approach put into action.

See pictures from the event below, followed by a Facebook Live video from the awards presentation.


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