Press Releases


2018 Lowell Milken Center Discovery Award Winners Announced


Oct 20, 2018

Grand prize goes to St. Paul, Minnesota Students for “The Fight to Send Women to Space”

FORT SCOTT, Kan., (September 20, 2018) – Minnesota high school students Aiko Mattie and Emma McCarthy have won the $7,500 grand prize in the Lowell Milken Center for Unsung Heroes’ 2018 Discovery Award competition. This international student competition honors creative research projects that uncover the stories of positive role models, or Unsung Heroes, whose impact on history remains largely unknown.

Aiko and Emma created a website, “Jerrie Cobb: The Fight to Send Women to Space.” In the 1960s, during the early days of manned space flight, Cobb fought for women to be allowed to travel into space alongside the first male astronauts. After NASA stopped the First Lady Astronaut Trainees (FLATs) from completing their testing, Cobb testified before Congress to expose the agency’s discriminatory hiring practices. Her advocacy ultimately led NASA to change its policies and include women in the space program.

The students researched Cobb’s story through books, old newspaper articles, and firsthand accounts of other astronauts of the era. They interviewed Gene Nora Jessen, one of the FLATs, as well as an academic expert who studies women in the space program. Aiko and Emma attend Open World Learning Community (OWL) in St. Paul, Minnesota, a school built around self-directed learning, and were advised by social studies teacher and Lowell Milken Center (LMC) Fellow Katie Craven. Norm Conard, LMC’s executive director, presented Aiko and Emma with the prize at a festive assembly at OWL.

“Aiko and Emma told Jerrie Cobb’s story with great detail and nuance, using sophisticated research skills and multimedia resources,” said Conard. “Each Discovery Award recipient uncovered an Unsung Hero whose contributions deserve to be recognized. We congratulate these wonderful students and their teachers.”

In all, LMC awarded six prizes to middle school and high school students in the U.S. and abroad. In addition to Cobb, the new Unsung Heroes uncovered by the winners’ research include war heroes, scientists and a civil rights advocate.

Megan Christensen and Meredith Kucera won the $2,000 second place prize for “The Incredibly Stupid One,” a documentary about U.S. Navy veteran Douglas Hegdahl, who was captured by the enemy during the Vietnam War. Hegdahl convinced his North Vietnamese captors that he was illiterate and mentally impaired so they would view him as less of a threat. The ruse succeeded, and with his freedom of movement around the camp, Hegdahl was able to collect and commit to memory a vast amount of intelligence that turned out to be critical to the survival of his fellow prisoners. Megan and Meredith attend Washburn Rural Middle School in Topeka, Kansas; LMC Fellows Alice Bertels and Lindsey Dowell advised them as they researched Hegdahl’s life and contributions.

Additional winners include:

Third Place ($1,000)

Student: Katie Overman

Teacher: Brian Letourneau

School: Hanover High School (Mechanicsville, Virginia)

Project: The website “Henrietta Swan Leavitt: The Woman Who Measured the Universe” focuses on Leavitt, an early 20th century female astronomer, whose work allowed scientists to measure vast distances in the universe. Edwin Hubble used her formula as the basis for his work that showed the universe is constantly expanding.

Outstanding Middle School Project ($1,000)

Students: Joshua Elkin and Ellena Hein

Teacher: Terry Kaldhusdal

School: Kettle Moraine Middle School (Dousman, Wisconsin)

Project: “Sir Nicholas Winton: 6,000 Descendants and One Man,” a documentary, tells the story of Winton, who saved 669 children from the Nazis during World War II in Czechoslovakia. More than 6,000 people are alive now thanks to Winton’s courageous actions.

Outstanding High School Project ($1,000)

Student: Natalie Ford

Teachers: Susan Sittenauer and Nathan McAlister

School: Seaman High School (Topeka, Kansas)

Project: The documentary, “Maurice Willows: Unsung Hero of the 1920 Tulsa Race Riot,” traces the actions of Willows, who advocated to change the policies of the Red Cross so the organization could help African Americans in the wake of dangerous riots in Tulsa.

Outstanding International Project ($1,000)

Student: Joonas Valja

Teacher: Merit Karise

School: Kuressaare Regional Training Centre (Saaremaa, Estonia)

Project: “The Making of the Story of Karl Ernst von Baer,” an animated documentary, explores the work of Estonian embryologist von Baer, who discovered the mammalian egg and shed important light on the way embryos develop.

LMC’s Discovery Award provides U.S. and international students in grades 4 through 12 a unique opportunity to use their creative talents to develop projects that feature Unsung Heroes from history who demonstrate one person’s power to make positive change in the world. Projects can take the form of documentary/multimedia, performance, or website. Projects require robust research, an annotated bibliography and a process paper. The Unsung Heroes’ stories must show potential for life beyond the development of the project and an ability to inspire students and others to take sustainable actions that carry out the legacies of their subjects.

“Real heroes tower and guide,” said LMC Founder Lowell Milken. “But their stories need to be discovered and heard. And when we do, we have the opportunity to motivate new generations to aspire to values that are essential during the challenging times we face individually, as a nation and as a world community.”

VIEW ALL THE WINNING PROJECTS

Established in 2007, the Lowell Milken Center (LMC) for Unsung Heroes discovers, develops and communicates the stories of Unsung Heroes who have made a profound and positive difference in the course of history. Now in its eleventh year, LMC has reached over 1,000,000 students and 9,000 schools in all 50 states, with growing global reach. Learn more about LMC and the Discovery Award at www.LowellMilkenCenter.org. Connect with us on Facebook and Twitter.

 






RECENT PHOTOS


2019 Lowell Milken Founder's Award Goes to Wildflower School in Goodyear, AZ

STEM Teacher Nichole Anderson Receives Milken Educator Award

2010-19 Missouri Milken Educator Therese Shain Shares Big News

Angie Beavin wins Milken Educator Award in Kentucky

Erica Stephens Accepting 2018 Tenneesee Milken Educator Award

Oklahoma Kindergarten Teacher Hailey Couch Wins 2018 Milken Award

Kansas 2018 Milken Educator Award Recipient Linda Dishman

West Goshen Elementary School Named 2018 TAP Founder's Award Recipient

Teacher Theresa Cross Surprised with Milken Educator Award

Principal Debreon Davis Wins Milken Educator Award

Katherine Watkins Surprised with Milken Educator Award

Knoxville Teacher Paula Franklin Receives Milken Educator Award

Lisa Rodgers Announced as this year's Colorado Milken Educator Award Recipient

Lowell Milken's James Bryant Conant Award Acceptance Speech

Lowell Milken Congratulates 2015 Milken Educator John Lary

Lowell Milken Speaks at 2015 Chapman University Commencement

Lowell Milken with Students at Friendly House Academia del Pueblo Elementary Charter School

Lowell Milken Keynote Address at 2017 TAP Conference

Felicia Casto wins Milken Educator Award at Rim Rock Elementary

Lowell Milken Speaks with Students at East End Prep in Nashville, TN

Ryan James Presented with 2017 Milken Educator Award in Richmond, Virginia

Lowell Milken, Tom Torlakson and Wayne Jospeh at 2017 Milken Educator Award Presentation

Lowell Milken Accepts 2017 James Bryant Conant Award

Media Interviews at Devon Willis-Jones Milken Educator Awards Assembly





RECENT VIDEOS




Computer Teacher Nichole Anderson Surprise with Milken Educator Award





Missouri Teacher Therese Shain Receives Milken Educator Award





Angie Beavin Surprised with Kentucky Milken Educator Award





Math Teacher Erica Stephens Wins Tennessee Milken Award in Memphis, TN





Heather Hurt Announced as 2018-19 Alabama Milken Educator Awardee





Oklahoma Kindergarten Teacher Hailey Couch Wins Milken Award





Perry Township Schools Receives First-Ever National Award of Excellence for Educator Effectiveness





AZ Science Teacher Jonathan Cadena Surprised with Milken Educator Award





Math Teacher Angela Boxie Wins Milken Educator Award





Katherine Watkins Surprised with Milken Educator Award





Knoxville Teacher Paula Franklin Surprised with Milken Educator Award





Chino Hills Teacher Alexis King Receives 2017 Milken Educator Award





G.W. Carver Primary School Wins 2017 TAP Founder's Award





Arizona Teacher Ana Gutierrez Receives Milken Educator Award





Principal Wendy Shirey Receives Nevada Milken Educator Award





Sarah Szymanski Wins Colorado Milken Award