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Teen Invents New Hurricane Damage Model

Alice Jiang and JPL's Jonathan Jiang hurricane damage modelersAlice Zhai’s curiosity about Hurricane Sandy’s destructiveness led to an outstanding high school science fair project – and a collaboration with a NASA scientist that produced a journal paper outlining a new statistical model for better predicting the economic damage from big storms.

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NASA Space Spinoff Contest

NASA tech innovation posterNASA’s second annual OPSPARC Challenge asks students in grades 3 to 12 to identify everyday items that were first developed for a space mission and then imagine a new humanitarian purpose for that technology. Deadline for submission is February 10, 2017.

That question lies at the heart of NASA’s Optimus Prime Spinoff and Research Challenge, a contest that asks students in grades 3 to 12 to identify and dream up a new purpose for technology first developed for a space mission.

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MIT THINK Scholars Program

idea light bulb MIT THINKMIT’s THINK Scholars Program is an educational outreach initiative run by undergraduates that supports and funds STEM projects developed by high school students. Six finalists are chosen to visit the campus, with three selected to receive up to $1,000 in seed money to complete their projects. Deadline for submitting proposals is January 1, 2016.

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USPTO’s National Summer Teacher Institute

patent and trademark posterInnovation, STEM, and Intellectual Property is the theme for the United States Patent and Trademark Office’s 3rd Annual National Summer Teacher Institute, to be held July 17-22, 2016 at Michigan State University. Some 50 K-12 teachers from across the country will be selected to participate in this professional development and training program. Apply by March 15.

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Allen Distinguished Educators Award

Allen Distinguished Educator award logoThe Allen Distinguished Educators award program recognizes innovative K-12 teachers who “break the mold” and help students become thinkers, makers, and creators through computer science, engineering, and entrepreneurship. Applications for the $25,000 award are due November 1, 2015.

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Smithsonian Opens New Innovation Hall

Smithsonian innovation hallOn July 1, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History will open its new innovation wing, with interactive exhibits and programs focused on the theme of U.S. enterprise, business, and invention. The centerpiece of the 45,000-square-foot space is the studio of Ralph Baer, inventor of the home video game.

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Blue LED Beams Nobel Fame

Blue LED sculpture Makoto TajikiLight-emitting diodes illuminate everything from traffic signals to shimmering sculptures like this one by Makoto Tojiki. But the researchers whose early 1990s breakthrough – a blue-light LED – made today’s energy-saving white lamps possible toiled mostly in the shadows… until they won the Nobel Prize for Physics in 2014.

No longer. In September, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences awarded the Nobel Prize in physics to Isamu Akasaki of Meijo University in Nagoya, Japan, Hiroshi Amano of Nagoya University, and Shuji Nakamura, a professor of materials and co-director of the Solid State Lighting and Energy Electronics Center at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

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Patent Office Debuts Innovation Site for Kids

kid inventorWhat sparks invention? Find answers on the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s updated website for kids, teens, teachers, and parents. Highlights include a video series on innovation created with NBC Learn and the National Science Foundation that covers topics from 3-D printing to self-driving cars to synthetic diamonds. There also are videos showcasing teen inventors, inventor trading cards, and a “cool IP” timeline of historic patents.

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To Go Green, Think White

White RoofsOne way both to save energy and curb climate change is to make surfaces – roofs, even streets – a light color. Solar radiation would be reflected into space rather than absorbed by buildings and pavement. Less air conditioning would be needed. If this were done uniformly, says Energy Secretary Steven Chu, the results could be huge – “the equivalent of reducing the carbon emissions due to all the cars on the road for 11 years.”

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