Another year, another record broken.

The phenomenally successful New Jersey School Boards Association’s STEAM Tank partnership with the U.S. Army received more than 550 student submissions over the last few weeks — an increase of more than 37 percent over last year’s total.

“Congratulations to all involved – especially the students and teachers who put together the videos describing their inventions,” said Dr. Lawrence S. Feinsod, executive director of the NJSBA. “Students of all ages are being given an extraordinary experience to invent and build a marketable product that can change the world.”

STEAM Tank provides New Jersey students with a platform to experience real-world problem solving. It allows them to think like entrepreneurs and design and create whatever they can dream using the fields of STEAM – science, technology, engineering, the arts and math. In STEAM Tank, students create innovative products and solutions to problems, which they enter into a competition. Winners at the regional level compete in the finals at NJSBA’s annual Workshop, before a judging panel of entrepreneurs and business leaders.

The deadline for completed applications was Jan. 31, 2019. The U.S. Army and NJSBA will evaluate all entries and invite teams to participate in the regional competitions. Entrants will be notified of the decision in February. Schools were encouraged to submit multiple teams for entry.

STEAM Tank consists of three regional challenges for three grade levels — elementary, middle and high school. Selected teams pitch their ideas to the judges in the designated regional locations, and winners of the regional competitions will advance to compete at the STEAM Tank finals at our annual Workshop conference at the Atlantic City Convention Center.

The northern region includes Sussex, Passaic, Bergen, Warren, Morris, Essex, and Hudson counties; the central region includes Hunterdon, Somerset, Union, Mercer, Middlesex, Monmouth and Ocean counties; and the southern region includes Burlington, Camden, Gloucester, Atlantic, Salem, Cumberland, and Cape May counties.

The competition asks the district teams to invent something new, modify an existing product, or identify a situation or real world problem that needs resolution. To keep it very open-ended, teams are provided minimal criteria, and they get a great opportunity to pitch their ideas, designs and solutions to a panel of experts.

Teams presenting must consist of at least two, but no more than five, students and at least one educator. Each team is allowed to present only one idea. Once a team has its idea registered and is accepted into the STEAM Tank regional competition, the team educator can request access to the STEAM Tank playbook that includes pedagogical recommendations, an FAQ sheet and rubric. The final judging of the STEAM Tank Challenge submissions will take place at the Workshop on Oct. 22 and 23, 2019. The award ceremony will take place at the New Jersey Education Association’s Convention in November 2019.

The popularity of the program has been phenomenal.

In 2015, John Henry, an NJSBA STEAM and sustainable schools specialist, and the U.S. Army’s George Johnson joined forces to develop STEAM Tank, modeled after the popular television show, Shark Tank.

The first year, there were 32 submissions with 17 teams selected to present their ideas and inventions at NJSBA’s annual Workshop in Atlantic City. The second year saw 193 submissions, with 90 teams selected to advance to the regionals, and 37 teams making it to the finals.

Last year, more than 400 submissions and 90 teams made it to the finals. Winners were announced at the New Jersey Education Association convention in November.

STEAM Tank Requirements

Submissions required either a two-minute video or a 500-word narrative with a complete description of the team’s pitch.

For additional information, please email steamtank@njsba.org.

STEAM Tank Regional Competitions

North – March 9, 2019, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at NJIT Campus Center Atrium in Newark, N.J. 07102

Central – March 16, 2019, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Camp Evans InfoAge Science History Learning Center, 2201 Marconi Rd., Belmar, N.J. 07719

South – March 22, 2019, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the U.S. Army Reserve Center, 390 S. Woodbury -Turnersville Rd., Blackwood, N.J. 08012