11th April 2012
Spirit of Innovation Challenge – Team Foogle finalists
Competing in the finals of the Conrad Award, Spirit of Innovation Finals in San Francisco, team Foogle from St Ninian’s High School did a brilliant job said team coach and Physics teacher, Andrew Shipley. Out of some 800 teams to originally enter they were among the final fifteen competing in the finals and were the only team from outside of the United States.
The team were competitors in the ‘Health and Nutrition’ section of the finals, having come up with the idea of a lifestyle ‘app’ to encourage people to think about the amount of exercise they would need to undertake to burn off calories consumed. So impressed were one of the sponsors that they are interested in following up with trying to develop the product further. The team are now considering their options.
On the trip the team were joined by Chris Stott from ManSat, the Manx company which sponsored the team’s trip to the finals in the US. Andrew Shipley said “Without the support of this Manx firm and the links that they have with the space industry and the Conrad Foundation in the US we would not have been able to take part in this prestigious competition”. “It is obvious from discussions with professionals involved in aeronautics and the space industry that this Manx firm is a major player in the satellite industry”.
As well as spending time looking around the NASA Ames base seeing original film from the mapping on the moon and looking at an old Titan rocket, the team also had the chance to explore San Francisco, spending some time shopping and looking around Fishermans Wharf. There were also ‘fireside chats’ with individuals such as Vint Cerf, one of the “fathers of the internet”, Apollo astronaut Rusty Schweickart and motorcyclist Chip Yates who was encouraged to come to the Isle of Man to compete in the TT, amongst others. The team raised the Manx flag over one of the tables in the conference centre and got to make some “amazing American friends” said Elizabeth Quayle, one of team Foogle’s members. Experiences during the event included sampling a drink called “Mountain Dew” and being taught air guitar by the world famous Björn Türoque.
Looking back on the event Andrew Shipley said, “This has been a once in a lifetime event for these students and shows the opportunities that exist for innovative and entrepreneurial individuals. I must say a big thank you to ManSat and the Conrad Foundation for making this possible. The Isle of Man needs to find ways to tap into this energy, enthusiasm, innovation and entrepreneurship of our people as we meet the challenges of the future, as has been facilitated by ManSat”.