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Innovation awards presented

WHS Senior Moses Lurbur and Lincoln Elementary teacher Tina Nicpan-Brown took top honors at the GWATA Innovators Awards Luncheon held in Wenatchee on March 30. Moses was named Future Technology Leader and Tina was named STEM Educator of the Year.

Moses Lurbur started a tilapia fish farm his junior year that culminated in harvesting the fish and serving them for lunch as part of Taste Washington Day his senior year. His fascination with aquaculture and farming sustainable food, along with perseverance, took him through the many challenges of the two-year project. “I think it’s really cool that they recognize it as an innovative way of getting people food and furthering education,” Moses said of the award. He is also gratified to know that the project will continue on at WHS after he graduates, and thanked his agriculture teachers Dan Ellwood and Beth Hammerberg.

Tina Nicpan-Brown is a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) champion who expands the role of STEM educator beyond the classroom to the community. Along with managing a 1:1 classroom, where each student has an iPad for learning, Tina has written and received thousands of dollars in grant money for innovative projects that include building safety helmets and testing them at Mission Ridge, and learning about snowshoe technology in the field at the Wenatchee River Institute in Leavenworth. Tina and the 5th grade team at Lincoln have created and planned a comprehensive career-connected learning field experience called “STEM Careers in Wenatchee.”

“This means everything to me because it’s about my students,” said Tina of the award. “It’s the work that the students have done, the work that my colleagues have done alongside me, and the community members that have supported all of the different things I’ve done over the years.”

Tina is adamant about recognizing the importance of STEM education in elementary school and beyond.

GWATA is North Central Washington’s Technology Alliance. Each year they celebrate Innovator Award Winners, which include Entrepreneur of the Year, Tech Savvy Business of the Year, STEM Educator of the Year, Future Tech Leader of the Year and Problem Solving Innovator of the Year.

This year’s Entrepreneur of the Year was Dave Carlson of Giga Watt, the world’s first state-of-the-art combined Blockchain hosting and service center. The Tech Savvy Business of the Year was Pacific Aerospace & Electronics, which uses proprietary technologies, best practices engineering, and specialized manufacturing techniques to produce electronics that perform in the world’s most extreme environments.