Conrad Foundation Tells Teens Worldwide, “You are the Solution”

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The 7th Annual Spirit of Innovation Challenge provides a platform for teams of high school students to design the future by creating commercially-viable products/services to benefit humanity.

Today, Nancy Conrad, founder and chairman of the Conrad Foundation, extended invitations to innovative teens worldwide to ignite their genius in the Spirit of Innovation Challenge. The annual program is a multi-phase business and technical plan competition, free and open to students ages 13-18.

Last year, five high school students from Miami developed a new clean water technology that helped a clinic serving a population of 500,000 in Nigeria. Before the instillation of the students’ purification system, babies born in this clinic were washed with dirty water. Now, with the help of these students, children can be brought into the world, washed in fresh, clean water.

Imagine the positive changes that can happen if all students with similar visions for benefiting humanity had the resources to make their ideas a reality. To date, more than 650 innovative products and services ranging from astronaut support technology to emergency management systems to super foods to alleviate malnutrition have been conceptualized as part of this program.

“We believe young people are the solution. They have the skills and the desire to develop creative answers to some of our biggest problems,” Conrad said. “By giving them a way to demonstrate their abilities and the access to mentors who can guide them, we provide an opportunity for students to add context to the content they learn in the classroom.”

The Spirit of Innovation Challenge celebrates the life and entrepreneurial spirit of astronaut Pete Conrad, the third man to walk on the moon. The program challenges teens to use science, technology, engineering and math skills along with creativity, collaboration and entrepreneurship to develop products and services to benefit humanity and address global sustainability.

Starting Aug. 21 and running through Oct. 24, student teams of 2-5 members are challenged to submit one-page abstracts detailing their innovations in the competition’s four challenge categories: Aerospace and Aviation, Cybertechnology and Security, Energy and Environment and Health and Nutrition. Students and educators worldwide are invited to create a profile in the online community to submit their abstracts at

Selected semi-finalists in each category then develop a business plan, technical plan and graphic representation of the team’s product or innovation. The top five teams from each category will travel to the Conrad Foundation’s annual Innovation Summit, hosted at NASA Johnson Space Center, April 5-8, 2014, where they will present their innovations and vie for more than $40,000 in next step grants and commercialization opportunities.

“It has been our experience that students excel when given the chance to be creative and collaborate with peers who share their interests. As a result, every year we receive entries that demonstrate young people possess the capability to imagine and bring to fruition changes that will benefit humanity,” said Jennifer Fotherby, executive director, Spirit of Innovation Challenge.

The 2013-2014 Spirit of Innovation Challenge is made possible by Lockheed Martin, as well as PepsiCo, Battelle and other corporate sponsors. Additional sponsorship opportunities are available for the Spirit of Innovation Challenge.


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Jen Fotherby

Carrie Taylor
since: 12/2008
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