Giving back by getting involved

Student innovation competitions seek mentors, judges for 2022 season

Providing authentic learning experiences for Kansas City students requires input from real world professionals. From competition judges to classroom mentors, educators and nonprofits must recruit hundreds of professionals each academic year.

Inventor and educator Mike Farmer says this role is critical for helping students understand how rapidly the world is changing and that getting this type of authentic feedback is very motivating for his students in the Blue Valley CAPS program.

“Being able to share what you know to help our society and our community is big,” Farmer said. “Seeing the students’ excitement is what it’s all about—and as their projects evolve you will see real value.”

Dan Toughey, co-founder of TouchNet Information Systems, Inc., who mentors with the Kansas City Invention Convention, said the experience was enlightening.

“It’s almost like a brainstorming session outside your own business,” Toughey said. “It opens your mind and gets you out of your tunnel vision. I would encourage people to consider getting involved. You just never know when you’re providing a little spark that keeps someone going—or when someone may give one to you.”

Regional Volunteer Opportunities:

The Connector: Managed by PREP-KC, The Connector virtually pairs volunteers with students, expanding college and career exposure and bringing real-world relevance to learning. Educators use The Connector for virtual field trips, career days, mentoring and more. Learn more:

Greater Kansas City Science & Engineering Fair: Now recruiting volunteers to judge projects on March 26. The time commitment is approximately four hours. Register here.

Make It REAL/PLTW Competitions

Now recruiting mentors and judges. See the details and register here.