Four members of It’s A Girl’s World Inc. (GW), based in South Jersey, have advanced to the finals of a global entrepreneurial STEM contest. The high school students will compete with 45 other teams from around the world at the end of April.
The prestigious contest, known as Conrad Challenge, brings science and technology to life through a student-driven, project-based approach. Students identify relevant real-world challenges that don’t necessarily have a clear answer and learn how to innovate by creating solutions and developing a business plan to bring their solution to life.
The four 10th graders are completing their third year with GW. Gabriella Antunes (Haddon Heights High School), Ella Bianco (Haddon Heights), Natalie Catalano (Salem County Career and Technical) and Kirsten Nelson (Kingsway Regional) began the challenge last August at Salem Community College (SCC). Through the fall and winter, team members developed a solution to help sanitize airplanes between flights that improves disinfecting with two different sources, reduces labor required to clean cabins and improves turnaround time between flights, thus providing safer flights for both passengers and crew. They created a working prototype, designed CAD drawings and wrote a comprehensive business plan. As their tagline states, their company Eir Clean is dedicated to protecting airline passengers and crew by cleaning airplanes, one flight at a time. The company was named after the Norse goddess of health.
The team successfully navigated through the first two rounds to advance to the finals, known as the Round 3 Summit. The Conrad Challenge started with over 700 teams from 39 countries in Round 1, then reduced to 448 teams in Round 2 with only 46 teams advancing. In Round 3, the students must develop an investors’ pitch and, executive summary, and file for a provisional patent. The Round 3 Summit normally takes place at Kennedy Space Center but due to the pandemic, it will be held virtually from April 28-30.
It’s A Girl’s World Inc. is a division of South Jersey Robotics. GW is a three-to-five-year program for young women from Gloucester, Salem and Cumberland counties starting in 8th grade to help build skills, confidence and a greater understanding of STEM-related careers through guest speakers, hands-on activities, mentor sessions and a community service project. The program consists of a two-week summer session at SCC in Carneys Point followed by quarterly mentoring through out the year. The Year 3 business project requires the students to meet (this year mostly virtual) through the fall, winter and spring. GW is sponsored by Salem Community College, Rowan College of South Jersey Gloucester, South Jersey Robotics, Atlantic City Electric, PSEG, Chemours and the Foreman Foundation.
GW is accepting applications for its upcoming Year 1 class for young women entering 8th or 9th grade in fall 2021. An application can be found at https://www.sjrobotics.com/girlsworld/.
Caption: From left, Gabriella Antunes, Natalie Catalano, Kirsten Nelson and Ella Bianco of It’s A Girl’s World Inc. have advanced to the finals of a global entrepreneurial STEM contest. The prestigious contest, known as Conrad Challenge, brings science and technology to life through a student-driven, project-based approach.