NEWARK, NJ – Students from Discovery Charter School in Newark recently took top spots in an innovative design competition hosted by the local nonprofit Schools That Can (STC).

The virtual event enabled six schools from Newark, Pittsburgh and New York City to grapple with design concepts and create efficient, sustainable layouts for the existing public school infrastructure in this fifth annual Design Challenge.

Each team presented its results to a six-person jury of experts and competed for titles in the following categories: “Best Overall”, “Best Design” and “Best Presentation”.

The designs placed particular emphasis on spaces that can be retrofitted to achieve a higher level of sustainability (including recommendations for roofs, terraces, landscaping and more). Design Challenge winners included: Discovery Charter School in Newark for “Best Design”, Northgate Middle School in Pittsburgh for “Best Overall” and VOICE Charter School in New York City for “Best Presentation”.

Newark students taking part in the challenge included: Amanee Dixon, Ancell Agyapong, Christian Foster, Danayisha Goddard, I-Myir Miller, Iguosa Iyamu, Nubia Celestin, and Seth Akuaku.

STC Newark, which serves a network of approximately 40 district, charter and independent schools, hosts the annual Design Challenge. The event aims to bring together young students, teachers, leaders and community leaders.

Participants take part in real-world design exercises to transform urban schools into more sustainable structures. Other STC cities hosted Design Challenges in 2019. This was the first year that all STC cities came together in a national program.

The program has proven to be effective so far, with more than half of the students participating, according to STC representatives, acknowledging that the challenge means they want to pursue a career in design.

“Schools That Can programs, including the Design Challenge, have tremendously helped Newark’s youth and motivated them to participate in stimulating activities that can make a lasting impact,” said Erin Sweeney, executive director of STC Newark. “Our students recognize their abilities and are inspired to continue their future careers.”

STC Newark’s other special initiatives include the Prudential Citywide Math Initiative, which aims to improve math readiness for Newark’s youth. the Victoria Foundation’s public school grant program, which is allocated $ 200,000 annually

Newark’s district and charter schools for college success and access; and the Spirit of Community Service Clubs, where STC acts as the lead coordinator and partner of Prudential to help students create their own community service projects.

The Design Challenge was also conducted in partnership with the Panasonic Foundation Inc, which supports STEAM education for historically underserved communities.

The judges for the virtual event included:

  • Andrea Murphy, Group Leader, Environmental Systems, Panasonic
  • Joey Muller, Cloud Software Engineer, Smart Mobility, Panasonic’s Cirrus
  • Lauren Cordova, data science and analytics manager at Panasonic
  • Mark Thaler, Senior Associate and Head of Education at Gensler
  • Megan Lee, vice president of planning and strategic initiatives and chief human resources officer at Panasonic
  • Tom Ralston, Superintendent, Avonworth School District, Allegheny County, PA.

Click here to learn more about STC’s virtual presentation and award ceremony.