Burley kids win 2nd in 3D printing competition

Teams from Burley won the Students Choice Award last weekend at the Southern Idaho Exhibition of Ideas, a 3D design and fabrication competition held by the Idaho STEM Action Center at College of Southern Idaho in Twin Falls.

Soap on a Rope from Burley Junior High School won the Students Choice Award. The team designed handles to attach to bottles of shampoo, conditioner, and body wash to help the blind and visually impaired distinguish between the products while showering or bathing.

PAWS from Pepper Ridge Elementary in Boise took third place. They designed a Scrabble-like word and sentence builder for students to learn Braille. Eight teams represented by 46 students and 11 mentors total participated in the competition.

The 2019 Idaho Exhibition of Ideas southern regional showcase was the culmination of a project that began this summer when the STEM Action Center trained and equipped coaches at the i-STEM professional development conferences statewide so they could assemble teams to vie in a 3D printing competition.

Per this year’s IDX challenge theme, each team has identified an accessibility and equity issue for the visually impaired in their community that can be addressed using 3D printing and digital fabrication and developed and documented a product to help resolve it.

Formerly known as the FabSLAM Student Showcase, IDX is designed to equip students with the practical, technical, and creative skills needed to engage with real-world problems of today and tomorrow. Student teams presented their solutions to a panel of judges and a public audience for review and feedback.

The STEM Action Center is also hosted the Eastern Idaho Exhibition of Ideas at College of Eastern Idaho last Saturday. In addition, it is hosting the North Idaho Exhibition of Ideas at University of Idaho Dec. 7. 

STEM knowledge and skills are important to the future of Idaho, because they’re needed for critical and creative thinking, problem solving, innovation, and collaboration. Idaho is the fastest-growing state in the U.S., its tech sector is the second fastest-growing in the nation at 6.3 percent, and 80 percent of all jobs will require technology skills within the next 15 years.

Meanwhile, Idaho’s unfilled STEM jobs leaped from 3,800 in 2016 to 6,300 in 2018, which represents nearly $413 million in lost personal wages and more than $22 million in lost state tax receipts. The Idaho Department of Labor predicts upwards of 100,000 STEM jobs will exist in Idaho by 2024. These jobs will represent $6.5 billion in personal income and almost $350 million in tax revenue if Idaho’s workforce is posed to fill them.

The Idaho STEM Action Center was created in 2015 because Idaho citizens are not entering the STEM pipeline fast enough to meet current and future Idaho workforce needs. Its goals are to coordinate and facilitate implementation of STEM programs, align education and workforce needs, and increase awareness of STEM throughout Idaho. The organization is working with industry, government, educators, and students to develop new resources and support high-quality teacher professional-development opportunities to foster a STEM-educated workforce that ensures Idaho’s continued economic prosperity. Visit STEM.idaho.gov for more information.

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