Announcing the Next Great Idea in the SMSD!

Announcing the Next Great Idea in the SMSD!
Shawnee Mission School District

The Shawnee Mission School District and Startland announce the Next Great Idea pitch competition honorees.

On Saturday, May 1, 2021, eight finalists presented their pitches to judges in the R and D Forum Next Great Idea competition, presented in partnership with Startland.

Click here to watch the event, featuring student final pitch presentations, student submissions, the R&D Student Showcase, and the Next Great Idea award ceremony.

The honorees announced are:

The Next Great Idea Winners- With a $2,500 prize, including $1,500 to be applied to further the idea

Presented to: Alex Blickhan, Grade 11, Shawnee Mission East

Project: Desalination Operation

Teacher: Amanda Doane

Presented to: Gabby Lickteig, Seventh Grade, Indian Hills Middle School

Project: Ficus for Clean Air

Teacher: Jamilyn Bertsch

Presented to: Nathan Mestel, Seventh Grade, Westridge Middle School

Project: “The Milk of Human Kindness”

Teacher: Victoria Wellmen

Idea of Promise Award

With a $500 prize, including $400 to be applied to further the idea

Presented to: George Tiffany, Second Grade, Roesland Elementary

Project: George’s Chore App

Teacher: Heather Berthelsen

People’s Choice Award

Marc Janda, Seventh Grade, Eighth Grade, Westridge Middle School

Teacher: Parker Guidry

With a $500 prize, including $400 to be applied to further the idea

This year, The Next Great Idea contest drew 84 submissions from students across the district. Each submitted an idea for a way to solve a problem and a plan for how to implement their idea. Students attended practice pitch sessions with industry experts, with help from Startland, to fine-tune their ideas and presentations.

On May 1, eight finalists presented their ideas to Jennie Hanna, communications and PR manager from Fishtech Group, Melanie Haas, business technology consultant for Prairie Cube Media, Kansas State Board of Education member, and Thalia Cherry, founder and CEO of Cherry Co. They evaluated the work based on a variety of criteria including student research, how well the problem was defined, and whether the idea was a standout in its field.

The Next Great Idea is a new addition to the Shawnee Mission R&D Forum, a 59-year tradition in the SMSD. The event is hosted thanks to support from The Regnier Family.

Bob Regnier shared remarks on behalf of the family, calling the event “a great pivot,” complimenting how the contest helps students innovate and develop skills that will “allow them to become the best they can be.”

Superintendent Dr. Mike Fulton congratulated the students and celebrated how their work connects to the district’s objectives of having every student have a personalized learning plan that prepares them to be college and career ready, with the interpersonal skills they need for life success.

We thank everyone from Startland for their partnership in providing the The Next Great Idea competition opportunity to students. We extend our sincere appreciation to the Regnier Family for 59 years of generous support for the Shawnee Mission School District R&D Forum.