High School Science Brains Design New Science City Exhibit

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Olathe, Kan. -- The people who run Science City at Union Station met today with a creative team to start developing an exciting new attraction at the science museum. That creative team is made up of teenagers -- top high school science students from Olathe -- who won a major competition called Battle of the Brains with their exhibit proposal. And we have them in our spotlight as the Fox 4 Reaching 4 Excellence Young Achievers of the Week.

There always seems to be something exciting and dynamic happening in a classroom full of very bright, enthusiastic students at Olathe North High School. Like the Flame Wave device.

"We are running propane through these tubes and into the large tube," says student Levi Hogan as he demonstrates the device. "And we're going to hook up music to go through the speakers. And that's going to push the propane out of the holes at different sine waves and at different rates so we can see the music being played by the waves of fire."

And there's the Glow Wall.

"We have LEDs of different colors all from the rainbow and also white light," says student Karlee Brigman as she turns off the room lights and begins to write on the wall's surface and it comes alive in light. "And we use it to show the difference in energy that comes from the different colors of the rainbow."

The students here are the high school science wizards of the Olathe School District's Distinguished Scholars program. There are musicians and singers here, athletes, writers, theater people and much more -- all brought together by their love of science and discovery.

"I just like to know how things work," says student Morgann Adams. "I'm the type of person when I ask a question and they answer it, I want to know why. Why, why why. So being focused on science and technology, you get a lot of answers to those questions you have around you."

Now they get to spread that passion for science in a big way. Led by teachers Amy Johnston and Rhonda Reist, they put together the winning entry in the Battle of the Brains student competition to come up with a new exhibit for Science City at Union Station.

"The project is called Unplugged," says student John Hack. "And we are hoping to teach about energy and some renewable forms of energy and the different types of energy from chemical to mechanical to electrical and how you can transfer between those types of energy."

Unplugged does it in a fun, captivating way, incorporating the Flame Wave device, the Glow Wall and more. Their entry was a real team effort -- the writing and editing, producing a video presentation and making a 3D animation of what Unplugged might look like in Science City.

"I am incredibly proud of them because it was an incredible amount of work," says teacher Amy Johnston. "This is not the only thing they are working on in life. And they just did a great job with not very much time really."

Their Battle of the Brains victory comes with a $50,000 grand prize for the Olathe Schools' Distinguished Scholars Science program. But the real prize is getting to see their hard work -- and their creative genius --- come to life at Science City.

"It's just awesome because we're all obviously very excited about science," says student Drew Broadbent. "But unfortunately not a lot of people are. So if we can pass on that feeling of excitement about science, that's just the greatest accomplishment ever."

"It's even hard for me to wrap my mind around what a huge deal this is and how many generations of people this could affect," says Johnston.

The students and their teachers say they have been told work will start very soon on their Unplugged exhibit at Science City with hopes for a late spring opening. Meantime, they plan to use some of their grand prize money to build smaller versions of what's in the exhibit and take them to schools for demonstrations.

FOX 4 News is Working 4 You to spotlight outstanding young people and their positive accomplishments. In our weekly report called Reaching 4 Excellence we meet young achievers in subjects like academics, the arts, leadership, community service, volunteerism, career exploration, overcoming obstacles and heroism.

Watch for Reaching 4 Excellence every Monday on FOX 4 News at 8 a.m., every Wednesday on Fox 4 News at 9 p.m. and every Thursday on Fox 4 News at 5 p.m.

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