Bismarck middle school wins DPI Innovation Award

Apr 12, 2017

Gov. Burgum, state school superintendent Kirsten Baesler, teacher Ryan Townsend and his 8th grade science class at Simle Middle School.
Credit Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

A science class at Simle Middle School in Bismarck is the first winner of the Department of Public Instruction’s Innovation Award.

The eighth grade class is taught by Ryan Townsend. The class has been working on creating a solar-powered mobile phone charging station. It would be specifically designed for homeless people, and would be placed in a city park.

"You truly are the future of our state," state school superintendent Kirsten Baesler told the class. "You have demonstrated in a unique way , that will be shared with people all across the state and the nation, about what our young people can dream about, what they think about and how they learn."

The project won an award from Samsung – worth $25,000.

Gov. Doug Burgum told the students the project is an example of innovation in education – something he has been championing since his State of the State address in January.

"It's not about learning the answers to a test you're only going to take once," Burgum said. "It's about understanding how to think and how to be a life-long learner."

Burgum said the way to be a life long learner is to learn how to ask great questions.

"You asked tough questions, you answered them with this prototype, and voila, you became the Samsung state winner," Burgum said. "That's really cool."

Townsend said his class is designed to make students think – and become problem-solvers.

"This class is really about you identifying problems and solving them , and writing your own instruction books, you own ways to solve tht problem," Townsend said.

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