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NEWS RELEASE: ITEEA Announces Winners of Inaugural REACH Challenge

February 11, 2020



Award Recipients Announced in ITEEA’s REACH Challenge – A Nationwide Adaptive and Assistive Technology Competition


RESTON, VA, February 11, 2020 – Just in time for Valentine’s Day, students from across the United States discovered today that their REACH Challenge projects have earned awards through the International Technology and Engineering Educators Association (ITEEA).

REACH Challenge is an impactful Adaptive & Assistive Technology (AT) design-thinking project for middle school, high school, and college level STEM programs. Teachers are provided with lesson plans and activities on Empathy, User-Centered Design, Prototyping and more, to lead their students in using their STEM skills to REACH a member of their community who has a challenge to overcome. This innovative project shows teachers how they can help students use their STEM skills for social good, making a real-world difference in the lives of those around them.

This year’s award winners hail from nine states: Hawaii, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Kansas, New York, Florida, Kentucky, Illinois and New Hampshire. The students and teachers have described their experience as “heart-warming,” “profound,” and “invaluable.”

“This project really is life changing, not only for the person receiving the adaptive technology, but for the students and their teachers as well,” said Gavin Wood, an award-winning STEM educator who partnered with ITEEA to develop REACH Challenge. “It’s a win-win for everyone involved.”

In this first year for REACH Challenge, teams created such AT solutions as:

  • A “Bat Cane” using sensors to help a boy with visual impairments and mobility challenges be able to sense objects around him. The boy’s paraprofessional described the invention as a “game changer” for his students.
  • A specialized napkin folder to help a man with Down syndrome gain employment;
  • A customized, fine motor skills toy for a special education classroom that could only afford one educational toy for their classroom every two years;
  • A hydraulic leg-lifting chair for a woman with Multiple Sclerosis;
  • An innovative beach wheelchair for a classmate with Cerebral Palsy,
  • A hand stretching device for a woman who survived a stroke at a young age.

“This was our first year with REACH Challenge, and we are absolutely blown away by these students’ innovations,” said Steve Barbato, ITEEA Executive Director. “We couldn’t be more excited to honor these teams for their accomplishments.”

To celebrate how they used their love for STEM in a way that touched others’ lives, award-winning teams will receive a special banner in time for Valentine’s Day to display at their schools. Teams and their teachers are also invited to ITEEA's 82nd Annual Conference in Baltimore on March 13, 2020, where the top teams will receive grants to support their STEM programs, as well as a STEM Swag Bag.

ITEEA would like to thank the MO Better Foundation for its support for the 2019 REACH Challenge. ITEEA is also accepting items to be included in the award recipients’ STEM Swag Bags. For 2020, ITEEA is looking for additional sponsors to increase awareness of REACH Challenge, and to provide more opportunities for teams to earn awards for their STEM programs. For more information, contact ITEEA at


The 2019 REACH Challenge award recipients are as follows:

REACH Challenge Winner - $2,000

State College Area High School - State College, PA - Bat Cane


REACH Challenge Second Place - $1,000

Donna Klein Jewish Academy (DKJA) - Boca Raton, FL - Napkin Folder


Honorable Achievement by Division - $500

Middle School - Vernon Johns Middle School - Petersburg, VA - The Duster

High School - BCAT Engineering - Salem, VA - Magnetic Lite Brite

Collegiate - Berea College - Berea, KY- Hydraulic Leg Lifting Chair


Finalists – STEM Swag Bag

Kalani High School - Honolulu, HI - The Beach Wheelchair

J. Sterling Morton West High School - Berwyn, IL - Grand Claw

Gilford High School - Gilford, NH - GoBabyGo Car Toy Holder

BCAT Engineering - Salem, VA - Officer Unicorn

Olathe Northwest High School - Olathe, KS - The Post-Stroke Hand Stretch Device

Riverview High School - Sarasota, FL - Beach Wheelchair

John F Kennedy High School - Bellmore, NY - Helping Hands

Berea College - Berea, KY - Tachycardia Heart Monitor System



ITEEA represents more than 35,000 secondary technology and engineering educators in the U.S. alone who are developers, administrators, and university personnel in the field representing all levels of education. ITEEA corporate members are comprised of leading technology companies. ITEEA's mission is that "Technology and Engineering Bring STEM to Life!” ITEEA seeks to meet the professional needs and interests of members, as well as to improve public understanding of technology, innovation, design, and engineering education and its contributions.


ABOUT MO Better Foundation

MO Better Foundation was established to help enhance the quality of life of adults and children with permanent physical disabilities by providing financial assistance to aid in obtaining items to assist in daily living, particularly those related to technology, transportation and mobility.