STOCKBRIDGE, MI – Stockbridge and Ann Arbor teachers are among the winners of a Michigan school innovation contest that’s awarding $20,000 in grants for ideas in STEM, world exploration and life skills.

The concepts developed from the three winning pitches will be used to improve Michigan classrooms through innovation, technology and firsthand educator experience.

Winners of the Michigan EdTech Innovation Pitch Contest include Robert Richards, a science teacher at Stockbridge High School, who took first place in the contest.

Richards will receive $10,000 in business startup grant funding, plus branding and logo design support and legal consultation for QB-Sat, a satellite-launch STEM kit and curriculum focused on engineering and space exploration.

QB-Sat provides an aerospace education curriculum that allows students to build a QB-sat following a blueprint type format, build kits and then provides the opportunity to launch them into space or fly them by other means such as drones or high altitude balloons, Richards said.

“We’re working with NASA Globe and putting together a curriculum to be funded by the National Science Foundation to provide QB-Sats for students around the world,” Richards said. “Further, we’ve secured an orbital launch and will be going to space in the first quarter of 2023.”

Second place in the contest went to Ann Arbor teacher and University of Michigan School of Education graduate student Garret Potter, who will receive $6,000 in business startup grant funding for his innovation Everystory, an audio/visual encyclopedia exploration environment for early learners.

“I asked my students what they wanted to learn most – one said ‘all the countries, and continents, and oceans,’ and 13 of my 23 students spoke two languages at home, so understanding the world we live in was their highest priority, but even the state’s most progressive social studies curriculum would not take them where they wanted to go,” Potter said. “What if children had a resource they wanted to turn to before learning to read, where they could explore their curiosity on their own?”

The third-place winner went to Livonia-based teachers Angela Jenkins and Julie Hamrick, who presented Selective, an online learning tool that integrates social emotional learning with academic practice. Selective will receive $4,000 in business startup grant funding, plus logo design support and legal consultation.

The Michigan EdTech Innovation Pitch Contest is the result of a partnership between Michigan State University’s Burgess Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, Spartan Innovations and Michigan Virtual, to bring educators’ ideas to life on ways to solve common classroom problems. Branding and legal support is donated by Michigan Creative and Foster Swift.

The contest was open from April 4 to May 13, with finalists notified in late May. All contest participants are eligible to attend a free innovation boot camp the week of July 18, which is designed to help participants further explore and develop a business model around their idea, while also introducing them to resources and supports that are available to entrepreneurs and innovators in Michigan, as well as opportunities to bring innovation lessons into schools and classrooms.


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