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Most innovative students to split $2,000 prize

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The Innovation Fair will be the first ever “Shark Tank” competition run at Vernon Hills High School. In January, students will compete by sharing an idea, innovation, or website to help solve either a global problem or a problem teens face today.

“We have over $2,000 dollars of scholarship money to give out. It will be distributed to four groups. Each group will get around $400 to $500 worth of scholarships. If there’s more than one person in the group, they’ll split it evenly,” Mr. Lueken, Computer Science teacher, said.

The Innovation Fair will take place Tuesday, Jan. 9 from fourth to sixth period in the foyer. Mr. Lueken has been fundraising since last year to raise this amount of money for the competition.
Students will be able to submit their ideas online through a Google form, due by Jan. 1. Everyone who signs up will be evaluated in the first round. The top ten from that evaluation will move forward to the final round. The top five groups in the final round will receive prizes.

Students will present their ideas in front of four local business owners. They will have about two minutes to pitch their idea to the four judges and get their score based off of the performance and innovation.

This is the first ever running of this competition, and it was created by Mr. Lueken and Ms. Brilowski, who are both apart of the district Innovation Team.

“The district has this creative team that is focused on a couple of different things, such as project-based learning and creating innovative educational experiences for students,” Ms. Brilowski, a Career and Technical Education teacher, explained.

The purpose of the Innovation Fair is to support students as they look to develop new technology. Students all around are creating these excellent ideas, but their voices do not get heard, and sometimes they do not have the tools to develop their designs, Mr. Lueken said. The students need guidance and some money to create their ideas.

“Students are already coming up with these ideas, but it’ll grow there, and it’ll die there, the goal of this is to help maybe make it into something. It is kind of the start to say, ‘Wow this is an excellent idea, you have a little bit of scholarship money, you might want to start working on creating it,’” Mr. Lueken explained.

Students in classes such as Entrepreneurship, AP Seminar, and Computer Science are already producing an innovation project based on helping a Global Goal.

“Many students within these classes have created such powerful apps and technologies that are needed in our community,” Luke Perlin (12) said. “Vernon Hills students have amazing innovations, and this is a great opportunity for these students to showcase their ideas to a group of intelligent business owners.”

While some students are already working on innovative projects for classes, they are not automatically placed into the fair. Any student can get involved if he or she has an idea. Students can access the application by visiting the Computer Science Club website: tinyurl.com/InnovateVHHS

“The Innovation Fair gives students a good place to showcase their creativity and their ideas to try and help improve the world we live in,” Nathan Truger (11) said. “I do feel like it challenges us to try and think outside the box, and [gives] us time to try and work on our ideas and try to perfect them.”

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