What do 340+ Chicago STEM leaders, marine life, and nanobots have in common?

The Lumity STEM Fair, of course!

Our annual STEM Fair is a celebration of Chicago’s STEM community. It honors the many Chicago STEM leaders who volunteer their time and talent with our students—and it showcases our students’ innovative STEM designs for solving some of the world’s toughest challenges.

This year, student teams from Amundsen High Schools and Chicago Vocational Career Academy tackled a host of social issues, including designing STEM solutions for preventing human trafficking, creating non-lethal ammunition for police, and improving student engagement in school. Students presented their ideas on stage to our expert judges (a big thank you to them all!):

  • Steve Betts, SVP & CIO at HCSC & Lumity Board Chair
  • Mia Boom-Ibes, Vice President Information Security Strategy, Innovation and Analytics at Allstate
  • Gino DiGregorio, Partner at Accenture
  • Suzzette Jaskowiak, Divisional Vice President – Pharmacy, Healthcare and Customer Engagement Technology and Executive Sponsor of DiversIT
  • Katherine Kohatsu, Partner, Strategy & Health Industries Advisory at PWC and Lumity Board Member
  • Carmen Lidz, CIO at City Colleges of Chicago

Students Rose to the Occasion

Asking challenging questions in mini-Shark Tank style, Lumity judges pressed students about why they chose their particular topic and how they would approach companies to help fund and market their ideas. As usual, Lumity students rose to the occasion showcasing not only their STEM knowledge but also the professional skills—presenting, listening, answering hard questions—that they are learning.

Although it was a difficult choice for the judges, ultimately, this year’s first-place award went to the Trash Busters team from Amundsen High School. Their name says it all: the team is out to solve, in their words, “the plastic epidemic destroying our oceans and killing over 100,000 marine creatures every year.” Their design—OSCAR— is an Oceanic Submerged Cleaner and Recycler. Powered by solar panels and current turbines, OSCAR is a robotic octopus with 8 tentacles that suctions and collects plastic. Its filtration system includes a sensor that detects the difference between plastic and other marine life, so that plastic is sucked in while marine life is either rejected or is circulated back into the ocean with water. OSCAR then uses nanobots to break down the collected plastic in its container.

Thoughts from Our Students

Like all of our student teams, the winning team was asked to reflect on what they learned. Here are just a few comments from our first-place team members:

  • “I used to get frustrated when someone didn’t understand what I was saying. I now explain into further detail and give examples to try to get across what I am saying.”
  • “Making mistakes [during the project] helped me grow. I learned to persevere through my problems.”
  • “Through the many activities we did, I was able to recognize that I’m good at explaining my ideas to my group members and getting criticism.”

We can’t wait to see where the Trash Buster team takes their OSCAR idea next!

Better than Kale: Lumity news that makes you feel good | Issue 2