The 2024 National STEM Challenge, announced by EXPLR, is calling on students in the United States to submit projects that will bring positive change to their communities or the planet.
“I think we will look back at the 2024 National STEM Challenge and see it as a place where real world solutions for our existential food problems were addressed by the generation that is inheriting these hurdles from us,” Chef Andrew Zimmern, a Co-Founder of EXPLR and a “STEMbassador” for the Challenge tells Food Tank.
Students can submit a project that they have developed in one of six categories, including Future Foods. This theme asks young people to design and propose practical ideas that address equitable and sustainable food production, distribution, and consumption.
“The National STEM Challenge and Festival inspire our country’s brightest young minds to forge a future where food is a universal right, not a privilege,” Jenny Buccos, Co-Director of the National STEM Challenge, tells Food Tank.
STEM—which stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics—is “everything,” says Zimmern. “Name a food issue and it’s a STEM topic, from robotics to regenerative ag, from plant based food tech to keeping foods nutritive for space travel,” Zimmern tells Food Tank. “Frankly I wish food had been more of a science subject 50 years ago when I was 12, maybe some of our current problems would have been solved already.”
In addition to the Future Food category, individuals may submit entries in the following categories: Environmental Stewardship, Health and Medicine, Powering the Planet, Space Innovation, and Tech for Good.
Students in grades 6-12 can submit their entries by November 15, 2023. Projects that have been developed for science fairs, festivals, and other competitions are all eligible.
In April 2024, the top-scoring champions from around the country will be invited to Washington D.C. to be recognized at the National STEM Festival, co-presented by the U.S. Department of Education and EXPLR.
“This event is the ultimate opportunity for every child in every community in America to get involved and dream, aspire, and work towards 21st and 22nd century solutions for everyone!” Stephen Ritz, Founder of Green Bronx Machine (GBM), a partner of EXPLR, tells Food Tank. For more than 10 years, GBM has used food and farming to engage students in STEM subjects.
“We’ll be bringing a pop-up farm to the event and rooting for the most creative, inspired, children and projects this nation has ever seen,” Ritz continues. Their pop-up farm will demonstrate a production model that uses 90 percent less water and 90 percent less space compared to traditional farming.
The National STEM Challenge is also seeking sponsors to support the Future Foods category and ensure that finalists can travel to Washington D.C. for the Festival at no cost to them or their families.
“Investing in the Festival’s Future Foods pillar goes beyond supporting mere ideas,” Buccos tells Food Tank. “It represents a pledge to our planet and its people, aiming to establish a world where food security is as fundamental as the ground beneath our feet.”
To learn more about the National STEM Challenge and submission guidelines, click HERE.
“I can’t wait to see what these brilliant young minds come to the kitchen table with in mid-April,” Zimmern says.
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Photo Courtesy of Green Bronx Machine