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Education Lab is a yearlong project to spark meaningful conversations about education solutions in the Pacific Northwest.

December 27, 2013 at 5:00 AM

Two contests reward innovative students looking to make their mark

Courtesy NFIB

Courtesy NFIB

Maybe your kids relish a challenge and consider the holiday break a frustrating exercise in boredom. If so, two contests with impressive prizes and upcoming deadlines might keep them busy until classes start again.

High school seniors who have started a business — be it anything from babysitting to website design — should consider applying for the National Federation of Independent Business’ Young Entrepreneur Awards. The deadline has been extended to Jan. 6, 2014, and is open to any high school senior who owns a business and is headed to college or vocational school next year.

Applicants must submit a 1,000-word, typed essay describing their entrepreneurial efforts and future goals. In 2013, 100 such students walked away with $1,000 each, including Jesse Sheldon from Spokane Valley, Donavon Preiser from Auburn, Mikaela Pederson from Bellingham, and Lucas Holtgeerts of Anacortes.

Five others scooped up the $5,000 award, and Shea Gouldd, a young baker in Florida, was named young Entrepreneur of the Year. She won a $10,000 scholarship toward tuition at Washington University in St. Louis. Ms. Gouldd started Shea’s Bakery at age 14.

The scholarship is merit-based. All semi-finalists will be notified by the end of January. Go here for more information.

Crunching numbers

Tech-minded types might find the Paul Allen Computing Challenge a more stimulating diversion. This year, the contest emphasizes data science, a growing field that involves mining data for meaning — identifying trends, visualizing models and otherwise processing huge volumes of information.

In the Allen Challenge, aspiring computer scientists use current tools to address real-world scenarios. This year’s contest focuses on social media generated by Cyclone Phailin, which hit India in October 2013. The competition has two parts: In the first, student teams of two or three are provided with a data set and a list of tasks. The second potion is an independent project.

The group project deadline is March 28, 2014. All Washington state high school students are eligible to participate. Go here for more information. Prizes include an Amazon Kindle.

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