Nation’s Most Robust STEM Competition Provides Thousands of K-12 Students with Real-Life Engineering Experience

Hands-on STEM education and training highlight “Battle of Brains” contest as students compete for $155,000 in grants and a chance to have their exhibit built at a science museum

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Nov. 8, 2013 – Instead of vying to bring home a blue ribbon, the top 20 teams competing in the “Battle of the Brains” are aspiring to walk away with a bigger prize – $50,000 for their schools and the opportunity to design and build the next exhibit alongside local engineers at Kansas City’s Science Center, Science City. The top 20 proposals represent the best design ideas out of more than 500 entries submitted for the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) competition and are up for a national public vote through Nov. 14 to determine the grand prize winners. The public is encouraged to show support for the students and STEM programming by voting for their favorite idea.

“Battle of the Brains” is a scholastic competition created by the Burns & McDonnell Foundation that seeks to encourage K-12 students to become inspired by STEM education at an early age. The contest helps foster creative thinking and better equips students for future STEM learning by giving them the opportunity to see firsthand what it is like to work in a STEM profession and incorporating national education standards into the curriculum – the Common Core Standards and Next Generation Science Standards. Involving more than 3,500 students from Kansas and Missouri as they compete for grand prizes totaling $155,000 and the opportunity to design a real science exhibit for the public, the Kansas City-based contest is most robust STEM competition in the nation.

“Studies show that kids are most open to STEM learning in first through fourth grades, so one of our missions is to capture the imaginations of students at young ages and open their eyes to careers they may not have known existed,” said Greg Graves, chairman and CEO of Burns & McDonnell, a Kansas City-based architectural, construction and engineering firm. “The ‘Battle of the Brains’ offers the opportunity to give students experiential and hands-on learning they wouldn’t otherwise get in a traditional classroom setting. We applaud all the educators and students on their entries – the quality of the proposals are phenomenal.”
Grand prize winners will be announced on Nov. 20 after a panel of experts from Burns & McDonnell and Science City, along with a public vote, helps select the best proposals in the K-6 and the 7-12 grade divisions. The judges’ rankings will account for 70 percent of the final score while the public vote will account for 30 percent. The winner in each division will earn a $50,000 grant to support STEM education; two runner-ups in each division will earn $5,000; and 14 honorable mention winners will receive $2,500 each for their schools. One group of students will see their proposal brought to life as an exhibit at Science City.

“Battle of the Brains” is the brainchild of engineers at Burns & McDonnell and was developed and funded by the Burns & McDonnell Foundation to address the declining number of students pursuing careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Science City at Union Station was selected as the 2013 beneficiary of the program. The Burns & McDonnell Foundation has made it a priority to become a leader in developing, organizing and funding STEM education and training initiatives both locally and nationally. The foundation has invested $4.5 million over the past few years in grant programs that support both STEM education and thriving educational environments like at Science City. The 2013 “Battle of the Brains” represents the second competition hosted in Kansas City.

To view the top 20 winners and for your chance to vote, visit
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