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 Two Students Win High Tech Fair Scavenger Hunt

Two students recently found out that they won the digital scavenger hunt the San Diego County Office of Education (SDCOE) organized as part of this year's San Diego Science Alliance High Tech Fair.

Mary Kraus, online and blended learning specialist with SDCOE, surprised the two students in class with the announcement that they had both won digital devices donated to the San Diego Science Alliance by Microsoft.

Cole Priest, a 7th-grader at San Pasqual Elementary School, won a Surface tablet computer, and Michaela Elmer, a senior at Cathedral Catholic High School, won a smartphone.

Cole said he worked hard to fully answer all of the scavenger hunt questions because he was really excited by the prizes. By participating, not only did he get a new computer, he also learned a lot, he said.

"Learning everything about the companies was a lot of fun," he said.

Michaela said she was surprised to find out in class that she won a new phone because she normally doesn't win things.

"I'm excited because I did something and did it well," she said, "and my hard work paid off."

To take part in the digital scavenger hunt, students used portable digital devices and QR codes to learn about different topics and companies that were at the event. The winners were picked based on the quality and completeness of their answers.

More than 4,000 students attended the High Tech Fair Oct. 21 and 22 where they learned about science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM, by participating in 66 hands-on, interactive exhibits prepared by local STEM industry leaders. The interactive demonstrations at the Del Mar Fairgrounds reinforced the concepts students are learning about in school and provided them with important insight into possible college majors and STEM careers.

The first night of the High Tech Fair was a free student-parent night, which was attended by nearly 1,000 people. The next day was the main event, where students in grades 7 through 12, from 55 public and private schools, arrive with their teachers to visit the exhibits. Each school was given 90 minutes to see the exhibits, which were split into seven strands: aerospace/engineering, biotech, energy/clean tech, conservation/environment, health tech, info tech, and robotics.

Thanks to sponsorship from companies like Genentech, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, ViaStat and more, teachers were provided with a bus and substitute teacher to bring up to 60 students each.

The High Tech Fair is a collaborative effort between the San Diego Science Alliance, San Diego County Office of Education, and San Diego Unified School District.

The event started 16 years ago as a way to inspire students to pursue a future in STEM fields. San Diego companies, non-profits, and universities wanted to plant the seeds and grow a local source of STEM professionals to fill a burgeoning need for a highly skilled workforce in the community.

This was the first year for the digital scavenger hunt, which is expected to be a regular feature.