Local Students Finalists in Global Innovation Competition

Local Students Finalists in Global Innovation Competition


Two students at Alameda’s Ruby Bridges Elementary School, Tuesday and Shannon Bakker  have been named finalists in the Paradigm Challenge, one of the largest youth innovation competitions in the world. The competition challenges students ages 7 to 18 to use their technical skills plus kindness, creativity and collaboration to generate new ideas to prevent injuries and fatalities from home fires.

The sisters: Tuesday, 11, and Shannon, 8, submitted a winning entry entitled “Baby/Small Pet Rescue Backpack.” They invented the idea of a fire-resistant backpack to help parents escape a fire safely while carrying an infant or small pet. Their team effort was one of the 100 finalists chosen.

More than 50,000 students participated in this year’s Paradigm Challenge. Their solutions included inventions, community events, mobile apps, videos, posters and songs.

“The number of youth who stepped up to accept our inaugural challenge to help save lives truly is inspiring,” said Jeff Richardson, Project Paradigm’s founder and CEO. “We commend the finalists for the energy, creativity and critical thinking skills they put into their solutions to this real-life problem. Their winning ideas can help save lives in communities around the world.” 

The 100 finalist teams will win cash prizes ranging from $500 to $100,000. A blue-ribbon panel of judges will review the top 100 entries. The top team in each age category (ages 7 to 10, 11 to 14, and 15 to 18) will win up to $20,000 and a four-day, three-night trip to Los Angeles to attend the Paradigm Challenge prize ceremony. Each second place team will win up to $10,000 and each third place team will win up to $5,000.

During the prize ceremony, set for Thursday, June 23, one of the first place teams will be selected as the grand prize winner and will receive up to $100,000.

In addition to the cash prizes for the student teams, the Paradigm Challenge is awarding cash grants between $250 and $5,000 to the inspiring teachers or organizations associated with the top 100 teams.

The Bakkers’ principal at Ruby Bridges Elementary, Cheryl Wilson, was the person who encouraged the sisters and helped them with their entry. The team was also aided by Fire Chief Stephen Healy and Fire Marshal Kathy Leonard of the Moraga-Orinda Fire Department.

The public can also choose its favorite finalists during the public voting period, which ends Tuesday, Aug. 30. The 10 finalist teams that receive the most votes will win “Public Choice Award” cash prizes ranging from $100 to $5,000. 

A gallery of the 100 finalist entries is available at www.projectparadigm.org/monthly-contest.