Spotlight Shines on SMSD Students in R&D Forum Student Showcase

Spotlight Shines on SMSD Students in R&D Forum Student Showcase
Shawnee Mission School District

For the very first time, Bella Cordova, a Roesland Kindergartner, shared her artwork with the community at the Shawnee Mission School District Research and Development Forum.

She was “excited,” she said to be one of the first attendees at the first Student Showcase Open House of the week. Her creation is a primary color artwork inspired by the work of Piet Mondrian, created in Mallory Mackay’s art class

As she found her artwork, family members were on-hand to celebrate and take a picture.

“We wanted to show her we are proud and tell her to keep up the hard work to get more work into the forum!” Samantha Cordova, her mother, expressed. “It’s cool to see all of the different things people are building at the Forum!”

For three days, Shawnee Mission opened the doors of the Center for Academic Achievement for community members to see student projects in the areas of science, technology, art, engineering, and career and technical education. Hundreds of student musicians, entrepreneurs, and robotics competitors also shared presentations at the event.

The event held several significant firsts for Felix Bell, a seventh grader at Indian Hills Middle School. He conducted his first science project, during his first year in middle school with project collaborator, Indian Hills seventh grader Greyson Smith. Their investigation, using a Geiger counter, explored what materials block radiation. He discovered at the forum that the project had been selected for “An Award of Distinction.”

He called the recognition a “cool surprise” and took the opportunity to explain the project to family members who came to support.

Isabella Cornejo, a seventh grader at Trailridge also jumped into presentation mode, sharing an English Language Arts project about Vincent VanGogh. Her work was part of a school project where she and peers were allowed to pick a topic of interest and research it. While researching the project, Cornejo felt a lot of freedom and joy in studying something she had a true passion for, she described. It felt “wonderful” to be presenting at the forum even though she was nervous, knowing it was an important opportunity, she added.

“I thought ‘I’m going to make sure I take this chance,’” Cornejo said.

Among those in the crowd hearing Cornejo present was English Language Arts teacher Natasha VanDyke.

“This is one of those soul-refilling activities,” VanDyke expressed. “Seeing that sort of spark persisting in students, particularly at this time of year–  it makes me want to work even harder. I’m really proud of Isabella.”

For several high school entrepreneurs, the R&D Forum provided students a chance to share businesses they have created in Tiffany Dixon’s Business Management Class at Shawnee Mission West. This year, a part of the R&D Forum features the Real World Learning storefront, based on a storefront at Oak Park Mall. Sophomore Samara Duncan shared her business, “Bracelets by Mara” offering hand-made bracelets, offering a variety of colors, sizes, and charms. She said the opportunity to share with the community was a chance to “become more organized and confident and comfortable” in presenting her business. Natalie Moss, a junior, shared her custom rug business “Nat’s Mats” saying the R&D Forum would help her practice communication skills.

“I think more people will know about my business and it is good to get the word out there,” Moss shared.

Community members also had a chance to see parts of the educational wing of Center for Academic Achievement, home to several of the district’s Signature Programs. Gia Gallagher, a senior from Shawnee Mission Northwest, and Olivia Martin, a senior from Shawnee Mission Northwest, both were on-hand to talk about the district’s Medical Health Science Signature Program. They talked about the opportunities the program provides them, including shadowing experiences at The University of Kansas Medical Center, St. Luke’s Hospital, and clinicals at Brookdale Senior Living and that they are currently earning Certified Nursing Assistant credentials.
“I hope to tell younger students here that they should get involved,” Martin added. “It’s a cool opportunity and place to be. It’s a great learning environment.”


The Forum Continues  

The Shawnee Mission Research and Development Forum continues through Saturday, April 27.

●    The R&D Forum Student Showcase Open House continues from 4 to 7 p.m. on Thursday, April 25.

●    On Saturday, Shawnee Mission’s R&D Forum will present The Next Great Idea competition from 9 to 11:30 a.m. Click here for links to watch the competition.

●    Voters will be able to vote in the People’s Choice competition.

●    An award ceremony will be held at 2 p.m. on Saturday, April 27 at the CAA. Click here for the link to the livestream.

About the R&D Forum

This is the 62nd year of the Shawnee Mission Research and Development Forum. It is a districtwide celebration of student innovation and achievement. The R&D Forum is presented by the Shawnee Mission School District with sincere thanks to the Regnier Family who has supported the event since it began.