The Dashboard of Tomorrow

By Sean Cavanagh — October 19, 2009 1 min read

The science and math community places a high value on student competitions, which reward students with cash, college scholarships, or simply recognition for innovation. We at EdWeek are flooded with information about these contests. But this week I received a notice about one in particular that earns points for its creativity and eccentricity.

A new contest called “Dash+" challenges high school students to put their creativity, design, and math and science skills toward a mission of interest to millions of auto-dependent Americans everywhere: building the car dashboard of the future.

The contest, supported by the U.S. Department of Energy, opens for registration today. The goal is to have student teams design dashboards with gauges, instruments, and interfaces that will prod drivers to maximize fuel efficiency and have less of a deleterious effect on the environment. Student competitors will be required to submit a written technical plan and video presentation that would help convince both automakers and the general public to adopt whatever tools they come up with.

The high school competition is a part of a larger automotive “X Prize,” sponsored by Progressive Insurance, a contest that invites adult teams of scientists to develop and submit ideas for more fuel-efficient vehicles. The rules for the high school Dash+ contest say that teams must include between two and five students in grades 9-12, ages 14 and older, and they must have an adult mentor.

I’ve seen some very innovative, and potentially patentable ideas come out of high school science clubs over the years. Maybe the next great dashboard won’t come out of Detroit, but rather from the school down the street.

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Curriculum Matters blog.