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North Whidbey Middle School Students Win National Design Challenge

Posted Date: 5/24/24 (3:17 PM)


North Whidbey Middle School (NWMS) students received national recognition on May 18 when they were among the top winners of the Space Medal of Honor Design Challenge. The inaugural design competition invited K-12 student teams from across the nation to create an exhibit for the Charles H. Coolidge National Heritage Center’s forthcoming Space Medal of Honor Gallery which is located in Chattanooga, Tennessee. 100 teams participated, including three teams from NWMS.

Teacher Don Jenkins presented the opportunity to 7th and 8th grade students in his English Language Arts (ELA) classes. "We read about The Challenger incident and future space exploration in class for an assignment," said Jenkins.

The students embraced the challenge. Their design concept included using QR codes, a moon room, and a simulated control panel, which may be incorporated into a new exhibit at the museum. To prepare for the competition, students researched, wrote scripts, and created videos explaining their museum design exhibit to the judges.

"The students took full ownership of this project," said Principal Russ Peters. "They worked outside of school hours and engaged fully in the design process and their dedication paid off." 

All three teams advanced to the second round of the competition and two advanced to the top 14 finalists. Students Thorin Allen and Robert Brophy presented their design over Zoom during the final round on Saturday morning and received the second monetary prize of $5000.

The judges included Dr. June Scobee Rodgers, widow of Challenger Space Shuttle Commander Richard "Dick" Scobee. Representatives from NASA, Lockheed Martin, and Nissan North America also judged in the final round. 

Excellent work to all of our students who participated in this one-of-a-kind opportunity:

  • Winning Team with $5000 prize: Students Thorin Allen and Robert Brophy (pictured below), supported by Morgan Vice
  • Finalist Team: Wesley Metzger, Austin Ray, Wolfgang Grube
  • Second Round Finalist Team: Ethan Pullins and Izzy Johnser
 Thank you Mr. Jenkins for inspiring these students to take the initiative to compete and succeed in this national challenge. In 2019, Jenkins was recognized as a national civic engagement champion by the National Association of State Boards of Education.