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Turner High School Named Finalist at Battle of the Brains Competition

The team earned 4th place out of 740 submissions.

This year, a group of Turner High School students in advanced science courses achieved something remarkable. They placed fourth in the prestigious Burns & McDonnell Battle of the Brains competition. This achievement is a testament to their hard work, innovation, and dedication to STEM education.

Since it began in 2011, the Burns & McDonnell Battle of the Brains has been a launchpad for big ideas in STEM. This academic contest invites students from across the region to design a science center concept. The winning idea transforms into an exhibit at Science City.

Each year, Turner High School submits exhibit proposals, each following a similar process. The students visit Science City along with their teacher sponsors, Mr. Hagan and Ms. Bender, to see the winning exhibits from years prior to garner ideas for their own proposal.

Then, back in the classroom, the students work in groups to come up with an idea. This requires them to create a detailed and lengthy description, a model, and the measurements and materials would be needed for their exhibit.

About this process, Mr. Hagan said, “Over many brainstorming sessions, we worked to get our best idea moving forward that would appeal to and excite a wide range of age groups covering three different science disciplines: biology, chemistry, and physics.”

Of the various proposals, one is chosen for the entire class to collaborate on, and students were each given different responsibilities for the project.

About the process, Sophomore Tessa Stoner said, “I liked to see every idea that was on paper come to life.”

Sophomore Jada Soto shared that she and a classmate were the revisers, meaning that they thoroughly went through and edited each cover letter for the exhibit to make sure it was informative, knowledgeable, and persuasive.

“Everyone had different roles, but each role was very important and made an impact in our overall exhibit,” said Soto.

Sophomore Melina Madrigal agreed, “Being able to have full creative control of what our project would look like was so exciting and nerve wracking at the same time. All of us being able to add our own personal touches really brought it all together.”

In addition to creative skills, the students had to think through more technical questions. Along with submitting diagrams and written descriptions of the exhibit, they had to put together a commercial, billboard design, and constructibility costs.

The exhibit they submitted was titled, “Unveiling the Spectrum.” The project explores how each discipline in science – biology, chemistry, and physics - uses color to provide us with information about our world.

In December, the group was surprised at school by the Battle of the Brains staff who announced that they were a Top 20 Finalist.

Then, in January, the group joined the other finalists at Union Station where they took part in a ceremony and were announced to have landed in fourth place. This is a major honor – there were 740 submissions total this year from all around the region.

With their place as a finalist, the group brought back a $15,000 grant to Turner High School for STEM programming.

“We went into the ceremony, having no idea where we’d place, and we ended up coming back to school with a $15,000 grant! We didn’t know what to expect but that ceremony at Union Station had to be one of the coolest experiences and it really made us realize how much our work paid off!” said Soto.

Their teachers shared the same level of pride. “I know that this group of students embraced the challenge and worked tirelessly to achieve a great result,” said Mr. Hagan. This team's commitment was evident every day we worked on this project. There was such belief from the students that what they created would be a success, that even the smallest detail was worth the effort. Seeing our students recognized for their efforts was so rewarding – I am beyond proud of them!”

Congratulations to the Turner High School Battle of the Brains team! Your success is a shining example of what can be accomplished through hard work, creativity, and a passion for STEM. You've made all of Turner proud!