The Spirit of Innovation Challenge invites high school teams to use science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) skills to develop commercially viable, technology-based products in one of three categories: Aerospace Exploration, Clean Energy, and Health and Nutrition. The Challenge is hosted by the Pete Conrad Foundation. The National Space Society is a co-sponsor.

This year’s competition offers a once-in-a-decade opportunity for select teams to travel to Rio de Janeiro in June 2012 with the U.S. Department of State to participate with an international audience for the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development. They will also attend a U.S. workshop in May to meet their global peers in advance of the trip to Rio.

The top fifteen teams, five from each category, will travel to the annual Innovation Summit at NASA-Ames Research Center in California from March 29-31, 2012.

“The hallmark of America’s culture is innovation and entrepreneurship; it’s how we got to the Moon and how companies like Apple, Facebook and Google were formed,” said Nancy Conrad, founder and chairman of the Conrad Foundation. “Our Challenge transcends ‘fact memorization’ and gives students a real means of changing the world. Making that sort of monumental impact is what inspires these students to tackle the big challenges … exploring the universe, discovering cures for disease and preserving our planet.”

It’s free and easy to register. Student teams simply answer four questions about their innovative concept by Nov. 29, 2011. See www.conradawards.org for more information.

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