Shining a Spotlight on the 62nd Annual R&D Forum

Shining a Spotlight on the 62nd Annual R&D Forum
Shawnee Mission School District

The 62nd Research and Development Forum was a Time to Shine in Shawnee Mission!

This annual event provided the community a chance to see student excellence and innovation on display at the Student Showcase and in action during the Next Great Idea competition. On Saturday, April 27, the weeklong event concluded with an award ceremony.

As the ceremony began, the audience learned about the event’s tradition and the support it has received for decades from the Regnier Family. The video highlights how benefactor Vic Regnier supported the event early on, out of a desire to celebrate young, productive kids.

Superintendent Dr. Michelle Hubbard asked the audience to applaud all of the students who participated in the R&D Forum and spoke of how much she enjoyed seeing their work throughout the week.

“I am so impressed by the talent of our students in Shawnee Mission,” she expressed.

Dr. Hubbard also thanked all of the parents and educators who encouraged the R&D Forum participants to be innovative and creative.

Dr. Mary Sinclair, Board of Education President, extended congratulations on behalf of the Board of Education, to the students and thanked all who supported the students.

“Students, your hard work, innovation, and creativity, are truly inspiring,” she noted.

Bob Regnier, representing the Regnier Family, congratulated the students, parents, educators, administrators and Board of Education for keeping the district strong and productive and moving in the right direction.

Regnier shared that everybody who gets involved in an event like the R&D Forum wins. He offered the Next Great Idea presentation experience as an example.

“You will be doing this for a long time. This is such a good experience,” he added. “The more you do this, the better you get, and the more successful you will be.”

The Next Great Idea Competition

During The Next Great Idea Competition, Shawnee Mission celebrated nine finalists who shared their pitch ideas before a panel of judges. Each competitor had the chance to win prize money that would help them turn their idea to solve a problem into reality.

Prior to the award ceremony, Audrey Jennings, a sophomore at Shawnee Mission West High School, reflected on all she had learned through the pitch presentation process. Her project, called “The Dot Spot” provided solutions for those in need of menstrual products. 

Though the experience had been nerve-racking, she also said she built skill in building empathy for people, engaging community, and skill in time management.

“The best part was all of the connections I have made,” she noted. “It is amazing all of the things you can do with a few emails!” Before hearing the results, Jennings said she planned to continue her efforts no matter what the outcome was.

“To me, it is about the impact,” she said.

Benjamin Walsh’s project “BG Band” provided a solution for those who use continuous glucose monitoring devices that have a tendency to fall off and create waste. Walsh’s proposed product would be waterproof, adjustable, and reusable. Following his presentation, Walsh earned both a People’s Choice recognition and a Next Great Idea Award to help him make his idea become a reality.

“It’s awesome!” he said after receiving two giant awards. “It’s fun. I wanted to do this because I had a purpose that I wanted to get out there. I would encourage anyone to do this.”

Next Great Idea Awards

Students receive a $1,000 cash award and will receive up to $1,500 to further their ideas over the next year.

·Audrey Jennings, 10th grader at SM West High School

Project: “The Dot Spot”

· Benjamin Walsh, 7th grader at Indian Hills Middle School

Project: “BG Band”

· Miles Muehlbach, 7th grader at Indian Hills Middle School

Project: “Flightsuit: Interactive Lessons” 

Idea of Promise

$500 award

Lyla Speicher, 7th grader at Indian Hills Middle School

Project: “Berry”

Next Great Idea- People’s Choice Award

Selected by public vote - $500 award

Benjamin Walsh, 7th grader at Indian Hills Middle School

Project: “BG Band”

Student Showcase Honorees

During the April 27 Award ceremony, Shawnee Mission also announced students who presented work in the student showcase.

Among the honorees recognized were “Regnier Award” winners. This award is also known as the “over and above award.” This recognition honors Vic Regnier, benefactor of the forum throughout its history. All Regnier Award winners receive a plaque and each project was presented with a $1,500 award.

These are the 2024 Regnier Award Winners:

“Lunar Bamboo Greenhouse.”

Ella von Mosch, Ezra Lifferth, SM West seniors, and Miles Roberts, SM East senior

Principals: Steve Loe, SM West and Dr. Ryan Flurry, CAA

Teacher: Jessica Tickle, Engineering 

“Analysis of the Effect of Different Types of Plastics on the Microbiome of the Black Soldier Fly Larvae, Hermetia Illucens.”

Isobel Asbury, SM North senior

Principal: David Ewers, SM West and Dr. Ryan Flurry, CAA

Teacher: Dr. Kenneth Lee, Biotechnology

“In Recovery”

Noah Panjada, SM North senior

Principal: David Ewers

Teacher: Stephanie Dalley

Before the conclusion of the ceremony, Dr. Leigh Anne Neal, chief of early childhood and sustainability, invited all of the awardees to stand and receive an additional round of applause.

“These students represent a strong tradition of excellence in the Shawnee Mission School District,” Neal expressed. “You represent a lot of hope for the future and we look forward to watching you in years to come.”

Shawnee Mission appreciates the continued support of the Regnier Family members who have made the R&D Forum possible for 62 years.