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The Iowa Department of Education announces winners of statewide student ‘design challenge’

Date: Wednesday, May 4, 2022

DES MOINES – The Iowa Department of Education today announced the winners of the Build Iowa’s Future Design Challenge, an opportunity for K-12 students to create innovative projects, connect them to careers and compete for up to $1,000 awards for their schools.

First-place awards of $1,000 each will be made to the following schools for outstanding submissions by their teams: Johnson STEAM Academy in Cedar Rapids in the elementary school division; Boyden-Hull Junior High School in the middle school division; and Pella High School’s Principles of Engineering class in the high school division. The list of winners of second-place awards of $500 each and third-place awards of $300 each, along with more details about all the winning teams, can be found below.

“Congratulations to all the design challenge winners for their thoughtful, innovative projects,” said Gov. Kim Reynolds. “Growing and integrating work-based learning into our schools inspires students to discover future careers and gain valuable knowledge and skills that will greatly benefit them in those careers, while developing strategic solutions to address real-world problems. The Build Iowa’s Future Design Challenge offers these students a great hands-on, real-world opportunity to learn about the many rewarding careers in the construction industry. Thank you to the Home Builders Association of Iowa for co-hosting the challenge with the Iowa Clearinghouse of Work-Based Learning, and to challenge financial sponsors - Community Colleges for Iowa, Kreg Tool Company and Pella Corporation - for their generous support.”

Elementary and middle school students participated in the Iowa Home Design Challenge by constructing a model home using toy plastic construction bricks, wood blocks or other materials, and making the case for why it would be a great place to live. High school students participated in the Iowa Dream and Design Challenge, which involved conceptualizing and designing a project that could improve their community. Nearly 300 students across the state were involved in the 95 submissions turned in by the April 1 deadline.

“I am so impressed with the designs each team submitted and how they cultivated teamwork, creativity, problem solving and critical thinking skills in the process,” said Iowa Department of Education Director Ann Lebo. “Opportunities like the Build Iowa’s Future Design Challenge help students see the connection between the classroom and the workplace, preparing them for their future at every step of their educational journey.”

"Iowa's future looks bright after reviewing the entries, and we were impressed with the creative young minds that participated in the challenge,” said Jay Iverson, executive officer of the Home Builders Association of Iowa. “With virtually unlimited opportunities for high-paying careers in the skilled trades, we're certain that this exercise helped to spark interest in seeing those job opportunities as viable options.  Certificate programs, apprenticeships and on-the-job training options are readily available. Our corporate sponsors were champions for the cause as well."

“I used this Build Iowa's Future Design Challenge to introduce project management to the class,” said Brent Ewell, Pella High School industrial technology instructor, whose team placed first in the high school division. “We spent the first class understanding the scope of the project, identified stakeholders, developed a timeline and the impact of scope creep. At the start of each class, the students gave a quick report on their progress and identified project constraints. Also, the feedback students received from the community survey was amazing. Almost every participant commented on how impressed they were that the students asked for their thoughts on the impact and viability of the project. It was a great learning activity, and I'm thankful for the chance to integrate the Design Challenge into their class.”

The Iowa Clearinghouse for Work-Based Learning and the Home Builders Association of Iowa (HBA of Iowa) hosted the challenge to engage more students in authentic professional experiences that transform education for the workforce. Community Colleges for Iowa, Kreg Tool Company and Pella Corporation sponsored the challenge awards. The challenge is in keeping with the Future Ready Iowa goal of 70 percent of the workforce having education or training beyond high school by 2025.

  K-5 6-8 9-12
First Place

Johnson STEAM Academy

Cedar Rapids CSD

5th Grade

“Williams C.D.”

Teacher: Amber Williams

Students: Connor Fitzgerald, Dominic Patrick

Boyden-Hull Junior High

Boyden-Hull CSD

7th Grade

Teacher: Megan Alexander

Students: Eloise De Wit, Sophie Moeller, Brooklyn Koele, Rhiannan Van Beek

Pella High School

Pella CSD

“Principles of Engineering Class“

Teacher: Brent Ewell

Students: Isaac Boualavong, Crista Chenoweth, Jack Conrad, Stephen Gaul, Kaysar Lines, Emmalee Spurgeon, Grace Vander Beek, Wyatt Van Dyke, Jackson Van Kley

Second Place

Lewis & Clark Elementary

Council Bluffs CSD

5th Grade

“The Brainiacs”

Teacher: Kari Thomas

Students: Josh Burianek, Brandon Newman, Ben Waggoner, Garrett Ashcraft, Mikey McCombs, Reed Doughman, Drew Handley, Justin Landon, Rachel Tharp

Kirn Middle School

Council Bluffs CSD

8th Grade

“Field of Dreams”

Teacher: James Eddy

Students: Garrett Robertus, Emma Richwine, Eben Flenker

Alternative Learning Center

Dubuque CSD

“Bell of 46”

Teacher: Joe Bormann

Students: Heaven Conley, Lucas Larsen

Third Place

Westwood Elementary

Westwood CSD

5th Grade

“House in a Hill”

Teacher: Brian Steele

Students: Abby Nink, Surianna Bebee, Naomi Terry

West Marshall Middle School

West Marshall CSD

7th Grade

Teacher: Allison Bartholmey

Students: Avery Buck, Mia Christianson, Landrey Peterson, Sophia Simms

Hillcrest Academy

“Plant Science Class”

Teacher: Mike Severino-Patterson

Students: Luke Schrock, Jace Rempel, Grant Bender, Jack Endahl