Malea Pina, a 13-year-old student at the REAL School in Racine, partook in the Visioning a Greater Racine’s Tech-Prize contest. Pina won the top prize in the student portion of the contest.
Pina proposed an app idea that would essentially focus on peer-to-peer homework help. Her app is, essentially, a strong resolution to getting help with homework when parents are unable to help.
On Monday, October 18, an all-school assembly was held at REAL School to present Pina with her award. She received a check for $1,000. The message at the assembly was clear: by participating next year, any one of the students attending that assembly could be in Pina’s shoes.
Directing Principal Curt Shircel encouraged Pina to take part in this competition. Pina was the only student at her school that followed through and entered.
Her app idea was 1 of 27 different ideas that were on display. The public was allowed to vote at various stores in Downtown Racine for their favorite idea. On September 18, a panel of judges selected their favorite ideas from the High School and College divisions. In addition, this included an open competition with entrepreneurs who had participated in a Pitch Competition earlier, that was also part of Tech-Prize.
During the school-wide assembly, Tech-Prize Co-Chair, Jeff Daniel explained that the goal of Tech-Prize was to foster innovation and new ideas that could bring jobs to the community. Daniel told the students, “we’d love to see you compete next year.”
In addition, other community members were present at the assembly including primary sponsors, Tony Bigonia, owner of Uncorkt in downtown Racine, and Jim Ladwig, Senior Director for Global Community Affairs at SC Johnson, another primary sponsor
Ladwig offered a word of advice to the student body as he spoke, “It’s important to be creative, to be a critical thinker, to enable technology,” he said. He continued by explaining how SC Johnson invests part of profits back into the communities where they operate, with a priority on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Manufacturing) education.
During the school assembly, time was reserved to honor Pina, who was presented with a giant check. Students and faculty applauded Pina for her hard work. After the presentation, Daniel handed Malea an envelope with the actual check. “This is one you can cash,” he said with a smile.
Shircel said the R.E.A.L. School integrates Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics into their curriculum and partners with Gateway Technical College’s SC Johnson iMet Center to give students hands-on career training. Students can graduate from school with 30 credits toward a Gateway degree. He said the school and Tech-Prize goals were closely aligned and he hoped Malea’s success would encourage other students to participate next year.