Burns & McDonnell Battle of the BrainsVoting is now under way for the Burns & McDonnell Battle of the Brains competition. Students have been working diligently all school year brainstorming ideas and creating design plans in hopes of submitting the winning entry that will result in $50,000 and the opportunity to see their exhibit constructed at Science City next spring. Our panel of judges whittled down the 560 entries to 20 finalists — and now it’s up to you! Yes, you — public voting begins today!

One grand-prize winner will be chosen from each division (elementary and secondary), and each will receive a $50,000 grant to fund STEM initiatives at their school. Two runners-up and 14 honorable mentions will each earn $5,000 and $1,000 grants respectively. And one lucky team’s design will be selected as the next great exhibit at Science City.

The competition — which pitted area schools against one another — is sponsored by Science City and the Burns & McDonnell Foundation as part of a long-term strategic partnership to continually improve the visitor experience at Science City, while focusing on the importance of STEM education (science, technology, engineering and math) through project-based learning. The 560 entries represented 35 districts, 128 distinct schools (including home schools), 456 teams and 2,465 individual students in the nine-county area surrounding Kansas City.

“Our judges were blown away by the submissions,” said Melissa Lavin-Hickey, director of the Burns & McDonnell Foundation. “The entries were nothing short of amazing. It’s obvious we have some very talented kids in our community, and an amazing group of teachers who are passionate about STEM education. Selecting the top 20 was more difficult than we ever imagined. “

Now through November 18 at 5 p.m., anyone with a valid email address can vote once per day for their favorite elementary and secondary finalist. The judges’ scores account for 70 percent of the final rankings, and the public votes makes up the remaining 30 percent. The winners will be announced on November 21.

Go to http://battleofthebrainskc.com/ to explore the finalists and cast your vote today. Prepare to be amazed. We were!