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Students Innovate at The Tech Challenge: Taking Flight

Team The Flying Squirrels from Ida Jew Academy wins first place Best Overall in the 4th and 5th grade division of the 2016 Tech Challenge.Click here for high-resolution version

SAN JOSE, CA--(Marketwired - April 24, 2016) -  Thousands of students from across Northern California participated in the 29th annual Tech Challenge, sponsored by EMC Corporation, this weekend. More than 2,000 students worked in teams for months to design and build gliders to deliver supplies to a remote location. They put their projects to the test in front of cheering crowds at The Tech Museum of Innovation, launching their gliders over a mini mountain range and landing them safely.

"We couldn't be more proud of and inspired by the students who participate in The Tech Challenge," said Tim Ritchie, president and CEO of The Tech. "They are living proof of what we deeply believe: people are born problem-solvers and, given the right tools and support, they can take on big challenges and succeed. We are committed to doing all we can to ensure that these bright young people will become the tech leaders of tomorrow."

The Tech Challenge, a signature program of The Tech Museum of Innovation in downtown San Jose, invites teams of students in grades 4-12 to use engineering design to solve a real-world problem. It reinforces 21st century skills including creativity, problem solving, design, teamwork, leadership, risk-taking, perseverance and learning from failure.

"I first joined The Tech Challenge because I wanted to do something interesting with my friends," said Jaelynn Pascual, a seventh-grader at Most Holy Trinity School in East San Jose. "I've since learned that practice makes perfect. If your design doesn't work at first, you keep going and fix it again and again until you get it right."

As a result of the design of the program, more than 40 percent of the participants are girls and more than 40 percent come from low-income communities, both of which are rarities in traditional engineering and science competitions.

"The Tech Challenge is a highlight each year for EMC people," said John Giubileo, senior vice president at EMC. "We're proud to continue our support of a program with a rich history of inspiring young people from all backgrounds and making STEM education exciting and accessible."

The Tech Challenge would not be possible without the enduring support of hundreds of educators. This year's Bob Grimm Award for an extraordinary educator was given to Richard Algea, a teacher at Lairon College Preparatory Academy in San Jose, for his commitment to bringing opportunities to children in low-income communities. Algea, a fourth-grade teacher, helped 30 students from multiple grades participate in this year's challenge.

Bob Grimm, who passed away in 2015, was a longtime champion of The Tech Challenge. He was a stalwart supporter of providing STEM education resources to all.

Key sponsors supporting The Tech Challenge include EMC Corporation, Cisco Systems Inc., SAP, Intel, Samsung, Adobe, ARM, Bank of America, eBay, Genentech, Motorola Solutions Foundation, Qualcomm, TE Connectivity Foundation, United Airlines and Thermo Fisher Scientific.

For more information visit The Tech Challenge website.

About The Tech Museum of Innovation

The Tech is a hands-on technology and science museum for people of all ages and backgrounds. The museum -- located in the Capital of Silicon Valley -- is a non-profit experiential learning resource established to engage people in exploring and experiencing applied technologies affecting their lives. The Tech Challenge and Tech Awards are signature programs of The Tech. The Tech's mission is to inspire the innovator in everyone.

Top Awards

4th and 5th Grade Division

Best Overall 1st Place
The Flying Squirrels
Team # 436
Ida Jew Academy

Best Overall 2nd Place
Space Narwhals
Team # 115
Merritt Trace Elementary

Best Overall 3rd Place
Sky Force
Team # 478
Santa Rita Elementary

6th Grade Division

Best Overall 1st Place
Blackbird Designers
Team # 192
Gardner Bullis Elementary

Best Overall 2nd Place
Team # 112

Best Overall 3rd Place
Larj Jet
Team # 600
Buchser Middle School

7th and 8th Grade Division

Best Overall 1st Place
The Gliding Gang
Team # 207
Livermore Valley Charter School

Best Overall 2nd Place
Time Flies
Team # 111

Best Overall 3rd Place
Gliding Condors
Team # 341
Hyde (Warren E.) Middle School

High School Division

Best Overall 1st Place
Girls on Fire
Team # 18