STEM Challenge Student Showcase

Thu, 05/26/2016

This school year, Ms. Zayed, one of Brooks' STEM teachers, received an invitation from the Illinois Science and Technology Coalition to participate in the R&D STEAM Learning Exchange. The first workshop for teachers took place on October 9, 2015 at Northwestern University. During the workshop session several teachers from Brooks were introduced to the R&D STEM Learning Exchange and the STEM challenge.  Brooks was also invited to be part of this challenge, which included the following:  

  • Mentor Matching Engine 2.0
  • Conducting STEM Challenges
  • Design Thinking
  • How to best engage with mentors

On May 21, Brooks "Super Team", comprised of members of the intial 13 teams, presented their project in front of professionals from some of the major companies in technology, as well as students and staff from all over Illinois. To view the video of the presentation, click here.

To understand how this project worked, we posed Kevin Boens, one of the finalists from Brooks some questions about this experience.

Question: Can you describe the process of this project from your point of view?

Answer: Originally I was in the group of the Wave Charger which was a project to study how to charge phones without any hardwired connection. This means the phone would charge through a sort of wifi signal. This however was a theoretical study, without real technology to construct this device so, after the mentors weeded out projects they thought were less feasible, I was placed in the Heat Charger super group. In this group I brought my knowledge of technology and of the effects of heat on human body to help study the safety issues about the Wave Charger. I also contributed further knowledge on the effect of body mass on this device and how it would affect the experiment in its entirety. I believe that this experience was great to have at this point in our lives because it only opened our eyes to the endless possibilities of things in which we could bring into this world as young innovative minds.

Later on, we interviewed Ms. Zayed to get her perspective. 

Question: How did you get involved?

Answer: I accepted this challenge on behalf of my Projects in STEM classes and our school.   I wanted my students to tap into their innovative skills and connect with external partners to solve complex, and real-world problems.  Students worked in teams and applied what they learned in science, technology, engineering, math, and social science to solve challenging issues over the course of this semester. By examining real-world problems and networking with outside professionals, students were able to explore first hand a variety of career opportunities. My students learned to collaborate with professionals in different fields. To complete these challenges my students had to create a connection between industry application and classroom learning and set their minds to help solve industry problems through meaningful research experiences. 

Question:  What were the challenges?

Answer: We started with 13 projects from two different classrooms,  2A and 8th block Projects in STEM classes.  All 13 projects were teamed up with staff from the Motorola Mobility team.  Mentors from Mentoring Matching Engine were assigned by Motorola Mobility to help with this task.  Once the projects were complete, all 13 presented on April 29th at the Motorola headquarters.  The mentors decided that 6 out of the 13 were excellent and they could not make a decision to which individual one would move forward. On May 13th, the whole school was invited to attend and the final 6 presentations at Gwendolyn Brooks and help decide who would represent the school at the final showcase.  Several classes attended the event and voted on the final group to represent Gwendolyn Brooks at the final showcase on May 19th.    The group chosen was the Heat (Phone) Charger

The following  are all of the groups’ titles and their topics. 



  1. Heat Wave:  Mini portable heater with suction cups which will speed up defrosting of windows. Device can be turned on through smart phone App or device.
  2. Mail Express: Mail Express, Mail Express is an app that allows residents across the United States access their personal mail; bills, sales papers, etc. With this app you can opt out receiving paper Mail completely or only recommends specific Mail to be sent to your home. The app requires you to have a phone or computer so that you can access your mail. You will never have to worry about not receiving your mail due to stormy weather or an overload of snow. Mail carriers across the country will deliver what you need with just the click of a button. The future of mail delivery is here now thanks to Mail Express!
  3. The Cultural Encyclopedia: This is an app that is designed to be an information database that gives people an easier way to learn more about a given culture or society. Our goal with this is to create an easier way for people in different cultures or areas to be better informed about one another.
  4. Class Navigation App: The proposal is to offer an app that helps student's navigate to their high school classrooms via a mobile application. 
  5. Solving The Case: Many people get called for jury duty and are not fond of it because of the long waiting process. In most cases they do not get to participate in a case due to canceling leading to their whole day is waste. If we could find a way to make this process more efficient and have the participants eligible to do jury duty at home, it can lead towards more people wanting to be a part of it.
  6. Charging of your phone: The body heat from the fingerprint is what charges your phone. It will have a vibration feature for the blind so they can sense when their phone is charging.
  7. Medicinal Implant: people forget to take their medication Our group wants to create an implant that contains medication dosages connected via Bluetooth to an app that your doctor could use to strictly regulate the amount of medicine released by the implant.
  8. Card Stuff: We hope to create a credit card tracker. This tracker will hopefully eliminate the anxiety associated with losing your credit card, because you, with this efficient app, will be able to track the location of your card and find it whenever it is misplaced. This will be helpful to the everyday person and even official out to solve a robbery
  9. Lost and always found: an app that can keep track of your items that you often or may potentially lose or have stolen. 
  10. Find my Dog App:  make a dog tag that has gps installed and you can find him by having an app that would tell you his every location.
  11. A super cool life saving emergency button: Improvement of currently existing emergency buttons used by seniors, we will expand the application of the device and also broaden the targeted consumer market for it.
  12. Augmented Reality: An app that allows one to use augmented reality as to form 3 dimensional figures from flat 2 dimensional drawings, paintings, etc. 
  13. Wave Charge - The Wireless Charger: design of an app that brings power to mobile phones through the synthesis of power from a plugged in, wireless adapter programmed to transfer its energy via an app. The goal is to manipulate this ability, once it is reached, to mimic the function of wifi; the more wave chargers there are in a given vicinity, the more networks there are. As for this signal similar to that of wifi networks, the aim is to extend it as far as possible. Not to forget, there may be distinctive limitations to this miracle energy - there may be limited amount of devices that can run on one wave charger - at least ten is ideal. If this has a great turnout, individuals will have the technology to charge devices from anywhere in a home, a cafe shop, or an office.

Question: What do you think the students got out of this experience?

Answer: The students used this challenge as a learning opportunity to collaborate and work with professionals. They also created different apps that would impact their communities positively. We had many challenges such as limited resources, predicting potential errors, time lapse, slow responses from the mentors to proceed with the next step, limited time for phone conferences, conflicting schedules, and Mentor Matching Engine limitations.  Notwithstanding these obstacles, the students successful in completing their projects.

Question: Is there a segway in the future for Brooks' specific project?

Answer: My students put a tremendous amount of effort into their Research, Design Thinking, Presentation skills and we hope to continue with this partnership we developed with R&D STEM Learning Exchange  for the future.