Gulliver Preparatory School’s engineering team has been selected as one of four national 2013 Conrad Foundation Spirit of Innovation Challenge winners. Each winning team received an innovation grant of $10,000 to continue product development and a one-year affiliate membership to Sigma Xi, the scientific research society.
Gulliver’s engineering team won in the challenge’s Energy and Environment category with its Eco-Cooker. The project was inspired by Garandia, a poor village outside of Yola, Nigeria, where excessive woodburning cooking has led to deforestation. Garandians have no access to alternative sources for fuel such as gas and electricity.
The Eco-Cooker allows for safe and effective cooking without the need for firewood. It uses cattle dung, which is rich in methane, to produce biogas as a clean fuel source for heating and cooking.
Because most Garandians make a living as cattle herders, there’s plenty of animal waste around the village. The portable cook stove is easy to use and maintain, will help manage the animal waste and contains an expandable biogas production system.
“It’s an incredible honor for our students to be recognized by the Conrad Foundation for the second year in a row,” said John Krutulis, Gulliver’s director and head of schools. “We are proud of our students and their coach, Claude Charron.”
The Conrad Foundation’s Spirit of Innovation Challenge celebrates the life and entrepreneurial spirit of astronaut Pete Conrad, the third man to walk on the Moon. Presented by Lockheed Martin and Battelle, the annual program is a multiphase business and technical plan competition, which is free and open to students ages 13-18 from around the world.
Over seven months, students use science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) skills along with creativity, collaboration and entrepreneurship to develop innovative products and services in one of four categories: Aerospace and Aviation, Cybertechnology and Security, Energy and Environment or Health and Nutrition.
This year, 20 finalist teams were selected from a pool of more than 230 entries from 44 countries and throughout the United States. The finalists attended the 2013 Innovation Summit at NASA’s Johnson Space Center, located in Houston, TX, April 10-13.
Two Gulliver teams were among the finalists: the winning Eco-Cooker team and a biomedical team, MedEasy, which advanced in the Health and Nutrition category with the Pill-Minder, an automatic pill dispenser with an alarm system designed to remind people to take their medicine on time and at the right dosage.
Claude Charron, coach of the 2013 Eco- Cooker team and 2012 Team Gulliver International, was named Nancy Conrad Teacher of the Year at the Innovation Summit. He received the honor for excellence in education and for being an outstanding advocate for the program. Charron is Gulliver Prep’s Engineering and Biomedical Sciences Department chair. In addition to a cash award, Gulliver will display, for one year, a custom-designed bronze trophy by sculptor Erik Lindbergh, grandson of famous aviator Colonel Charles A. Lindbergh.
For more information about Gulliver Schools visit <www.gulliverschools.org>. For more information about the Conrad Foundation, visit online at www.conradawards.org