A hydropower device that converts ocean tides to energy, and an “app” that helps grocery shoppers by monitoring expiration dates from a smartphone – both designed by New Jersey public school students – were selected the top inventions in the inaugural STEAM Tank Challenge held at Workshop 2016.

The student inventor teams behind the “Tidal Tyrant,” from the Atlantic County Institute of Technology, and the “Grocery Guard,” from Frances S. DeMasi Middle School in Marlton, in the Evesham Township School District, were presented with top awards this week in surprise visits by NJSBA officials to their schools.

The STEAM Tank competition, which was created and sponsored by NJSBA and the U.S. Army, will build on its success next year and will expand to offer a regional level of competition, with finals held at Workshop.

“The students at DeMasi Middle School thoroughly enjoyed working on their project, and they look forward to future competitions as STEAM Tank continues to expand to reach more students!” said Mia Gallagher, a teacher at Frances S. DeMasi Middle School. “Thank you to the US Army and the NJSBA for this fantastic opportunity!”

The STEAM Tank Challenge, created to encourage students in the areas of STEAM – science, technology, engineering, the arts and math – pitted 17 student teams in a contest modeled after the “Shark Tank” television show. Teams created innovative projects, and presented their inventions at Workshop, at the Atlantic City Convention Center, before a judging panel of entrepreneurs, business leaders and inventors. Teams were graded and critiqued, with the winners announced this week.

NJSBA Executive Director Dr. Lawrence S. Feinsod praised the inventiveness and knowledge of the winning teams, and all students who took part in STEAM Tank. “It was gratifying to see so many young student inventors involved in the STEAM Tank Challenge,” he said. “Promoting student achievement, and excellence in the areas of STEAM, are key goals of the New Jersey School Boards Association, and we are pleased to be continuing this program next year.”

The Tidal Tyrant, a form of hydropower, harnesses the strength of the ocean obtained by tides, and converts that energy to useful forms of power, including electricity. A team of young men from the Atlantic County Institute of Technology took home the grades 9-12 prize for the invention.

Grocery Guard, an application which streamlines the process for buying and using perishable items, not only helps with monitoring expiration dates, but also helps the seller to maintain their supply in market. The bright students from Frances S. DeMasi Middle School who invented it won the K-8 prize.

“The STEAM Tank competition provided an excellent platform for students to use problem solving skills and practice 21st century skills of collaboration, communication, and creative thinking.,” said Gallagher, the Frances S. DeMasi Middle School teacher. “These skills will prepare students for secondary education and a job market in order to compete in a global economy. “

Each winning team received a trophy and gift card.

NJSBA also announced that the STEAM Tank program will expand next year to allow more students to take part. STEAM Tank will offer three regional competitions, with a southern, central, and northern competition. Worthy competitors at each regional level will be given a ‘golden ticket’ to go through the next round, with the finals culminating at Workshop 2017.

Look for more information on the next STEAM Tank competition, and how schools can take part, in early 2017.