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Middle-school innovators get a boost from NCAR

NCAR is serving as the 1996/97 Denver-Boulder area sponsor for the Bayer/NSF Award for Community Innovation. This new program challenges teams of students in sixth through eighth grades to identify issues affecting their communities and to use the scientific method to solve them. It is sponsored by Bayer Corporation, NSF, Discover magazine, and the Christopher Columbus Fellowship Foundation, an independent federal agency created in 1992 to encourage research and discovery.

"All children look for their own creative solutions to the problems around them," says Joseph Bordogna, NSF's assistant director for engineering. "This competition can foster children's innate impulse to make a better world for themselves and their communities."

Teams of four boys and girls prepare entries under the supervision of an adult coach. Each team tackles a community-based problem--social, political, economic, environmental, or technological--and proposes a creative solution that uses science and technology. The process and the proposed solution are documented in written and visual form and submitted for judging.

NCAR's sponsorship is being coordinated by Linda Carbone (Visual Communications). "Our role is to get information to the schools and students and to help them find scientific mentors and connections to community organizations," she says. Children of NCAR staff are eligible to participate, although their project coach cannot be a parent.

Team entries are due in late January 1997. Each will be judged by a national panel of experts. In May regional winners will travel to Epcot at Walt Disney World in Florida to compete in the national finals and to learn about technological innovation first hand. The grand prize winners will be awarded a $25,000 grant for their community. Savings bonds ranging from $1,000 to $5,000 in value will go to each member of the top three teams.

More details on the Bayer/NSF competition are available from Linda, ext. 8612, lcarbone@ucar.edu. •BH

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Prepared by Jacque Marshall, jacque@ucar.edu, 303-497-8616