The student newspaper of Vernon Hills High School

The Scratching Post

The student newspaper of Vernon Hills High School

The Scratching Post

The student newspaper of Vernon Hills High School

The Scratching Post

ST3AM Showcase exhibits VHHS’ innovations

Aanya Gupta
Abraham Guo (12) presents his group’s Aquatrash collector to judges.

On Friday, January 19th, the VHHS foyer was lined with creative innovations and projects. From an Ionic wind thruster to an Aquatrash collector, the annual ST3AM (Science, Technology, Entrepreneurship, Equity, Art, Math) Showcase provided students the opportunity to present their hard-worked projects.


Adam Lueken, computer science teacher and sponsor for the showcase, said, “[ST3AM Showcase] is an opportunity for students to show off their really cool project in one of their classes, clubs, or personal passion projects.” 


The showcase prompts VHHS students to attempt to solve real world problems using projects. These can be created through classes or can be personal. Following submissions, ten finalists are selected to present their project in front of judges. 


This year’s winner was Laasya Manikonda (10). Manikonda proposed a non-profit called MED to combat healthcare inequity in rural and developing countries. MED primarily focuses on medical education through workshops and the distribution of informational pamphlets in native languages. 


“[Healthcare inequity] is something that isn’t addressed as often, and there are a number of preventable deaths because people don’t have access to medical resources and education,” said Manikonda.


Manikonda was inspired to create this project after her grandmother, who lived in a rural town in India, passed away from a heart attack due to a lack of healthcare resources.


“[Her passing] was a combination of no access to nearby hospitals and not enough education and knowledge about symptoms of a heart attack,” she said.


Juno Lee (11) took second place. Lee created Geometra, a website that teaches a high school geometry curriculum. Lee was motivated by socio-economic inequalities in the school system which can act as barriers to quality math education for some students. This platform makes Geometry education more accessible. 


“The main challenge [in creating the project] was learning how to build a website using many coding languages and connecting them,” said Lee. 


Kartik Vasudeva (12) and Sam Shlau (12) placed third. They created Xperience Coding, a coding camp for 2nd-8th graders. Forty students enrolled in the camp, and through enrollment, the camp raised $3,100, which was used to fund the prizes for the ST3AM showcase finalists and runner ups. 


These prizes included a $500 check, Galaxy tablets, a T.V., and more. 


According to Lueken, the showcase positively impacts students in a number of ways, including creating job opportunities.


“[ST3AM Showcase] gets kids to think about how to present their projects to a judge. Some of the judges have hired kids for internships. We had a current judge that was super impressed and is setting up interviews with some of the kids who presented,” said Lueken.  

Luke Wu (12) and Aleksey Lopez present their project, FoodForThought. (Aanya Gupta)
ST3AM Showcase participants, judges, and winners pose for a picture. (Aanya Gupta)