• Team Door to Your Heart, from Alice Costello Elementary in Brooklawn, was one of the STEAM Tank participants.

This year’s STEAM Tank Challenge received over 520 applications from 81 school districts and 103 schools statewide. Over 360 teams virtually presented from 21 counties in the regional rounds in early spring, and 47 teams qualified for the final presentations held at the end of May.

STEAM Tank is an open-ended entrepreneurial design challenge that requires student teams to develop innovative solutions to solve problems. Students are encouraged to reimagine and redesign New Jersey communities, so they are sustainable, healthy, equitable and safe for everyone.

The New Jersey School Boards Association has observed that STEAM Tank builds valuable soft skills that aid students during their time in school, when they enter the workforce and when confronting challenges. Participants are hardworking, determined and courageous.

Speaking of hardworking, STEAM Tank’s judges, subject matter experts, and mentors are the backbone of this program. They are volunteers from various backgrounds who provide constructive feedback to help teams along their STEAM Tank journey. Without their unwavering support, the program would not be possible.

This year’s challenge featured high school teams working to stop wildfires from destroying forests, property, and lives; middle school teams creatively upcycling unwanted or donated clothing free of charge to their fellow students and community; and elementary school teams who created an awareness campaign for students, faculty, and staff for those who have both visible and invisible disabilities.

Prize money is sponsored by the Education Leadership Foundation of New Jersey, which will provide $15,000 for teams to invest back into their STEAM programs. ELFNJ was formed to advance the governance of New Jersey’s public schools through training and research. Programs funded by ELFNJ, in partnership with the NJSBA, work to advance student achievement and improve school board governance.

Honoring the Winners

This season, NJSBA has decided to shake things up from the traditional virtual program format.

The top three high school teams were announced at the STEAM Tank Virtual Awards ceremony held June 8, with a total of $5,000 in prize money awarded. Since many high school seniors are moving onto college, trade schools, or the work force, NJSBA wanted to reveal the winners instead of waiting until October.

The winning high school teams are:

  • Study Hungry – Monroe Township High School – $2,500.
  • Estrogenators — Ridgewood High School – $1,500.
  • Wildfire Assessor – Ridgewood High School – $1,000.

The winning high school teams are invited to the New Jersey Education Association’s convention in Atlantic City in November to present their winning ideas and inventions. The top three elementary and middle school teams are invited to attend the NJSBA’s Workshop in Atlantic City, Oct. 24-25, where they will present their ideas and be awarded $10,000 in prize money between both divisions. Here are the finalists:

Middle School Division:

  • Eco Blox – Gould Elementary School, North Caldwell.
  • Tomorrow’s Closet – Creative Colab Charter School, Camden.
  • Improved Bullet Staunch – Haddonfield Middle School, Haddonfield.
  • Alternate middle school team: Squiggle Seeds – Gould Elementary School, North Caldwell.

Elementary Division:

  • Smarbage – Newbury Elementary School, Howell Township.
  • Spray, Spray, Spray – Wanamassa School, Ocean Township.
  • School Navigator – Good Intent Elementary, Deptford Township.
  • Alternate elementary school team: Safety Seekers – James Madison School, Garfield.

The STEAM Tank teams are dedicated, and their ingenuity and entrepreneurial skills were on full display this season. The lessons learned from participating in STEAM Tank Challenge will serve them well into the future.

Additionally, digital badges were awarded for special recognition categories and can be found on the STEAM Tank Facebook page.

We will see our teams in September for STEAM Tank Challenge 2024.

For more information about STEAM Tank contact the NJSBA via email.