Honoring Innovators at 60th R&D Forum

Honoring Innovators at 60th R&D Forum
Shawnee Mission School District

As the district celebrated 60 years of the Research and Development Forum, the community was brought together for a large, two-week extravaganza of student excellence.

The big bash brought thousands of community members to the Center for Academic Achievement to see artwork, science, career and technical education, and innovation projects representing work completed in the 2021-2022 school year. The forum featured everything from two-player video games, to handmade wooden speaker systems. There were paintings, photographs, ceramics, and dioramas. Displays revealed students’ latest scientific discoveries related to magnetic levitation, plants, liver aging, nutrition, and more. Students shared inventions meant to help prevent bird strikes on airplanes, keep family dogs safe, and encourage healthy eating.

Superintendent Dr. Michelle Hubbard shared that it was amazing to have projects featured and to have so many in the community see what Shawnee Mission students achieve.

“I was very impressed and the future is especially bright,”Dr. Hubbard shared.

Though the event has changed in some ways over six decades, the R&D Forum has remained a community wide celebration of student innovation and achievement. The Regnier Family has also generously supported the R&D Forum throughout its entire history.

Bob Regnier reflected on how the event continues to give him hope for the future.

“It’s exciting for me and that I think is what motivated my dad in the beginning,” Regnier shared. “He was concerned students were not given enough formal recognition for academic success. That was why he made the suggestion to create this event early on. I think what this event has evolved to become over 60 years is exactly what he was looking for -- a reaffirmation for students to be recognized for outstanding work.”

Next Great Idea Winners Announced

On Saturday, April 30, 2022 eight SMSD finalists pitched innovative ideas before a panel of judges. Later that day, several were awarded prize money to advance their projects in The Next Great Idea competition.

 Click here to see the final pitch presentations.

The Next Great Idea honorees are:

(Next Great Idea winners earn a $2,500 prize, with $1,500 to be applied to further the idea) 

Luke Sinatra, Indian Hills Middle School Eighth-Grader

Project: Digital Minter Gallery

Teacher: Jamilyn Bertsch

Grady Freude, Rising Star Elementary School Fifth-Grader

Project: Bird Strike Prevention

Teacher: Logan Williams

Siri Freude, Rising Star Elementary School Fourth-Grader

Project: Safety Sticker

Teacher: Mia Spano 

Idea of Promise Award (A $500 prize)

Eli Bruce, Trailwood Elementary School Fifth-Grader

Project: The Smart Collar

Teacher: Crystal Williamson

People’s Choice Award (A $500 prize)

Lily Flurry, Belinder Elementary School Third-Grader

Project: Lily’s List- Affordable. Healthy. Food.

Teacher: Nancy Abraham

This year, the finalists presented their work for a panel of judges from the community including: Joy Broils, founder of Hustle & Ground; Tiffany Dixon, CEO and founder of MOXIE Solutions Development and Shawnee Mission educator; Melanie Haas, Business Technology Consultant at Prairie Cube Media and State Board of Education member; and India Wells-Carter, Owner of Fresh Factory KC.  The judges and the mentors who supported the pitch practice sessions were recruited by partners from Startland. 

“The R&D Forum and the Next Great Idea Pitch competition offer opportunities for students to engage in real world learning experiences.  Whether it is idea conception problem solving, and business planning through the pitch competition;  high level scientific research; engineering or game design; creation of intricate wood and other career and technical design projects; or expression of creative talent through the art exhibits, the forum offers opportunities for students to be recognized for their innovation, talent, and hard work,” said Dr. Leigh Anne Neal, Chief of Early Childhood Education/Sustainability.

Student Showcase and Regnier Awards

On Saturday, April 30, 2022, Student Showcase honorees in the areas of arts, science, and career and technical education were also recognized.

Click here to view the award ceremony: https://youtu.be/cPgErk4eur0


Click here for a list of all Student Showcase Honorees.

The following students were presented with Regnier Awards, also known as the “Over and Above Award.”  These awards are named in honor of Vic Regnier, the visionary and benefactor of the R&D Forum. The honor is given to students who exhibit truly outstanding effort and achievement. Regnier Award winners receive plaques for themselves, their teacher, and school. Each project is also awarded a $1,500 scholarship.

Regnier Award Winners:

Zachary Corbin, Shawnee Mission East Senior

Project: “Dodgeball”  an animation game creation

Educators:  Jason Peres, SM East;  Ryan Flurry, Center for Academic Achievement;  Bryan Johnson, Animation and Game Design

Dorian Sanders, Shawnee Mission South Senior

Project:  Speaker and Subwoofer set

Educators: Todd Dain, SM South; Steve Magee, SM South industrial arts teacher

James Schipfer, Shawnee Mission East Senior

Project: Understanding the Role of Hyaluronan in Liver Aging”

Educators: Jason Peres, SM East;  Ryan Flurry, Center for Academic Achievement; Dr. Kenneth Lee, Biotechnology Signature Program instructor

Edwin Coronado-Arita,  SM West senior;  Camden Wiseman,  SM South senior; Wendy Lopez Mendez, Shawnee Mission Northwest Senior

Project: Civil Engineering Design and Development

Educators: Steve Loe, Shawnee Mission West; Todd Dain, SM South; Lisa Gruman, Shawnee Mission Northwest; Ryan Flurry, Center for Academic Achievement; Greg Thiel, Engineering Signature Program instructor

Dr. Mary Sinclair, Board of Education President, extended congratulations to all of the student honorees and all who shared their work in the showcase.

“Your innovation and creativity is truly inspiring and a welcome reminder of the faith we have in our future leaders and future problem-solvers,” Dr. Sinclair expressed.  She also thanked all educators in the SMSD who helped and supported these students.

Dr. Hubbard thanked all educators, staff, students, and family members who made the event possible. The Shawnee Mission School District thanks Startland for partnership in hosting The Next Great Idea competition. Sincere appreciation is extended to the Regnier Family for 60 years of support for the R&D Forum.