Judging Underway for Battle of the Brains STEM CompetitionWith a $50,000 grand prize and bragging rights for designing the next exhibit at Kansas City’s Science City on the line, more than 5,300 students from 210 schools put their STEM skills to the test for this year’s Battle of the Brains competition.

The designs are completed, the entries submitted, and now it’s up to a panel of judges to determine which teams will make it into the next round.

How It Works

Battle of the Brains is an educational competition sponsored by Burns & McDonnell that challenges Kansas City area students to think creatively about STEM — science, technology, engineering and math. Not only do the grand prize winners receive a cash prize for their winning design, the students also get the opportunity to work with a team of real-world engineers, architects and construction professionals at Burns & McDonnell who will help turn their idea into a reality at Science City.

We received more than 520 entries this year from across the Kansas City metro area, all with one common goal: to take home the grand prize and see their exhibit come to life in Science City’s first outdoor exhibit.

Since the first competition in 2011, the number of students participating in the Battle of the Brains competition has skyrocketed by more than 110 percent, and the number of schools participating increased by more than 60 percent. We couldn’t be happier to see so many teachers and kids excited about STEM initiatives and are so proud of their commitment and hard work.

What’s Next

The entries are being judged by a panel of science, engineering and academic professionals, including representatives from Science City and Burns & McDonnell. The panel evaluates and ranks the entries according to a set criteria, and based on those rankings, the top 20 finalists — 10 from the elementary division and 10 from secondary —move on to the next round.

The judges’ rankings will account for 70 percent of the final score. The remaining 30 percent will be determined by a public vote November 7-14. Anyone with an eligible email address is able to vote once daily.

Why It Matters

We’re thrilled that Battle of the Brains has helped shine new light on STEM topics and inspired area students to look at STEM topics in new ways. Every day, our employee-owners rely on STEM skills, passion and a lifelong curiosity to change the world through the projects we design and build. That’s why we’re so passionate about helping these students form a solid understanding of STEM principles. The opportunity to light that same spark and build the same foundation in kids is pretty amazing. And the best part of all? Seeing the ideas and hard work of the student teams come to life — whether in the form of a proposal or an exhibit.

Our judges are hard at work over the next couple of days selecting the finalists, but stay tuned to the blog for a list of finalists on Nov. 6. And get ready to vote for your favorite!

Julee Koncak is director of the Burns & McDonnell Foundation, which strives to empower communities to become healthy and strong, with a strategic focus on inspiring the next generation of STEM professionals.