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Raytown School District Challenge Students Named as Finalists in Battle of the Brains Contest

Two teams of students in Raytown School District’s Challenge program, housed at Westridge Elementary, were selected as a top 20 finalist in Burns & McDonnell’s Battle of the Brains competition. The two teams are Riveting Robotics and Expect the Unex-Spectrum.

Battle of the Brains is a Kansas City metro area contest where each top 20 finalist team is guaranteed to win a piece of $155,000 in grants for science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education by dreaming up an exhibit concept for Science City. One student team will see its idea come to life in a big way! The competition inspires students to think big and encourages teamwork, collaboration, and critical thinking with a real-world STEM challenge.

This year, more than 6,400 students from 240 schools in 50 school districts entered Kansas City’s largest STEM competition. Since it started 10 years ago, more than 30,000 students have benefited from this immersive educational opportunity.

“I cannot be more proud of our 4th and 5th grade Challenge students, Ms. Blank, Mrs. Finlay, Mrs. Bailey, and Mrs. Marshall,” Westridge Elementary Principal Matt Jones said. “Having not only one, but two entries chosen out of 750 is remarkable. Even more special is the fact that both teams are made up of students from all 10 of our elementary schools. Their achievements are just another example of the exceptional nature of our district.” 

The grand prize-winning team will receive a $50,000 grant, along with the opportunity to work alongside Burns & McDonnell and Science City STEM professionals to transform their winning idea into a $1 million permanent exhibit at Science City. Over the years, students in the competition have inspired five exhibits now on display at Science City.

“We cannot describe how proud we are of the hard work that our 4th & 5th grade Challenge students put into their two Battle of the Brains proposals,” Challenge Teacher Jennifer Blank said. “From picking the topic and learning about the subject, to the creation of six fully-formed activity ideas for a real Science City exhibit, they poured their souls into these proposals. Their hard work has paid off! In a total of around 15 hours of class time, each group worked collaboratively, from idea to creation. Congratulations, Challenge students!”

In addition to the judges’ evaluation, public vote accounts for 30 percent of the final selection. You can place your vote at beginning Monday, Dec. 6 through 11:59 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 17. The Challenge program entry are titled Riveting Robotics and Expect the Unex-Spectrum

The grand prize-winning team will be revealed at the awards ceremony on Jan. 19, 2022, at Union Station.

In 2019, Challenge’s RoboRevolution team earned top 20 designation and received grant funds.

For more information about Battle of the Brains, visit