Promotional image courtesy of the Kirkland Parks Foundation and Google

Promotional image courtesy of the Kirkland Parks Foundation and Google

STEM Challenge allows LWSD students to compete for school funding

Google has partnered with the Kirkland Parks Foundation to fund the KITE STEM Challenge.

The Kirkland Parks Foundation (KPF) recently partnered with Google to launch the Kirkland Interactive Technology Experience STEM Challenge, which aims to incentivise Lake Washington School District students to get outside and learn about STEM.

The challenge asks LWSD students to answer questions about science, technology, engineering and mathematics to earn cash prizes for their school’s PTSA. Elementary, middle and high school students will answer age-appropriate questions and win up to $10,000 that will be distributed by their PTSA to support STEM programs.

“This challenge offers students in the Lake Washington School District a fantastic opportunity to test their STEM knowledge and get outside at the same time,” said Darcy Nothnagle, Google’s head of external affairs for the northwest region. “We hope this challenge will interest students who might not normally get involved with STEM activities and show them that STEM is for everyone.”

The challenge begins April 23, when students will be able to download the KITE STEM Challenge app. Individual students will be able to answer questions until May 13, which will earn them entries into the prize raffle.

The challenge will close with an awards ceremony at Google Kirkland on May 23, where Google will award prizes to the first- through third-place schools at each grade level.

Students will receive a certain amount of entries for each answered question and in order to encourage students to get outside, they will receive bones entries for answering questions within a Kirkland park.

“If you live in the Lake Washington School District, you can answer these questions,” said Sally Otten, executive director of the KPF. “If you go to a Kirkland park, instead of getting five entries for your correct answer, you get 15 …the intention is to drive them to the parks.”

The app uses GPS coordinates to determine the location of students while they answer questions.

The cash prizes will range from $10,000 for the first-place high school to $1,000 for the third-place elementary school. Additionally, students will earn individual prizes that include Pacific Science Center memberships, IMAX tickets and Google swag.

“We are happy to have the opportunity to work with Google and other key partners to provide this challenge for students in the Lake Washington School District,” Otten said. “It is great way for students to have fun with STEM and potentially win financial awards that will support further STEM learning in their schools.”

Google donated $40,000 in total to be used for for participating schools’ STEM programs.

KPF and Google have created a database that includes thousands of questions that will be separated by difficulty. So second graders will receive questions appropriate for their grade, while high schoolers will receive more difficult questions.

Students and their parents can download the KITE STEM app from the app store on iOS or Android and can register for the challenge at KITESTEM.org.

The partnership between Google and the KPF began nearly two years ago when the two organizations developed an informative beacon system along the Cross Kirkland Corridor (CKC).

The beacon system would sense when passersby approached and connect with their devices. The beacons would then send informative information about surrounding plants and wildlife.

The program was meant to inform trail users about the environment around them. There were 15 beacons implemented over the project’s lifetime.

“We initially put [the beacons] on the master plan for the corridor,” Otten said “We originally wanted to do it in lieu of signage.”

Initially, Google and KPF wanted to use the beacon technology for the KITE STEM Challenge, but realized the beacons weren’t robust enough and a GPS system would be more precise. The team behind the project then switched to using a GPS-based app.

“I hope they take away that STEM is fun and STEM is interesting,” Nothnagle said. “I hope they take away this feeling of community and working together to benefit their schools. In that way I think everybody wins, when everybody has more STEM programming in schools.”

Otten and Nothnagle said they think the challenge could become a recurring event, depending on its success.

“Our schools, as we all know, can continually use more money,” Otten said. “There’s greater and greater demand for our students to have pretty broad experiences. Our schools just aren’t funded to handle all of that, so we’re really appreciative of companies and partners like Google that support this activity in a fun way so that kids are motivated and engaged in it.”


In consideration of how we voice our opinions in the modern world, we’ve closed comments on our websites. We value the opinions of our readers and we encourage you to keep the conversation going.

Please feel free to share your story tips by emailing editor@kirklandreporter.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.kirklandreporter.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) We reserve the right to edit letters, but if you keep yours to 300 words or less, we won’t ask you to shorten it.

More in Life

2021 Lexus RX 350L. Courtesy photo
Car review: 2021 Lexus RX 350L

By Larry Lark, contributor It’s always a good day when a Lexus… Continue reading

2021 Chevrolet Blazer. Courtesy photo
Car review: 2021 Chevrolet Blazer

By Larry Lark, contributor When it comes to certain car models they… Continue reading

The Cadillac CT4 is designed to appeal to a new generation of Cadillac buyers with its athletic design and astute driving dynamics. Courtesy photo
Car review: 2020 Cadillac CT4 Premium Luxury

By Larry Lark, contributor With apologies to Oldsmobile, “the 2020 CT4 Premium… Continue reading

2021 Mercedes E-350 luxury sedan. Courtesy photo
Car review: 2021 Mercedes E-350 luxury sedan

By Larry Lark, contributor Mercedes-Benz occupies rarified air in the automobile pantheon.… Continue reading

Still from the movie
Indie film starring Lake Washington student now available

The horror film “They Reach” was shot in 2018 around King County.

Deception Pass State Park. Deception Pass is a strait separating Whidbey Island from Fidalgo Island. File photo
Free Park Days in 2021 start in January

The Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission will again offer 12 free… Continue reading

Courtesy photo/Artists Sunday
Artists Sunday, following Black Friday, puts out call for participants before Nov. 29

The movement has a website that offers a free directory of artists and art organizations that participate

courtesy photo
Students helping students, teachers during the pandemic with free tutoring program

Two Northshore School District students have launched a website for free tutoring classes for elementary school kids, with plans to expand

File photo from September 2016, when hundreds participated in the Alzheimer’s Association’s Walk to End Alzheimer’s event at Redmond Town Center.
Eastside Walk to End Alzheimer’s Oct. 10

Similar to other walk events in the region, Alzheimer’s Association encourages registered users to walk in a location of their choice

Forbes Creek Park. Courtesy photo/City of Kirkland
Kirkland reopening playgrounds

The city states there’s been an increase in compliance in masking and social distancing in the city, leading to the reopening

Diya Garg, left, distributes Mighty Crayon recycles crayons and coloring books for Seattle students. Courtesy photo/Diya Garg.
Getting crayons to kids runs in the family

Eastside nonprofit Mighty Crayon is relaunched by younger sister of founder, repurposing used restaurant crayons