The following is a company-submitted press release and does not necessarily represent the views or opinions of Spaces4Learning.

Students in Kentucky, North Carolina Win Imagine FutureEd Student Design Competition

Cincinnati, Ohio — Imagine a future where students could use holographic, interactive, 4D images to explore constellations throughout the Milky Way or craters on Mars. This is the image that student Sierra McLeod painted in her winning submission for KnowledgeWorks’ first-ever Imagine FutureEd student design challenge.

Today, KnowledgeWorks and Teach the Future announced all winners and recognized a teacher for supporting the creation of two winning entries:

  • Sierra McLeod, from Lake Norman Charter High School in Charlotte, N.C., imagined a story about a future classroom that used an interactive simulator to help engage students and encourage classroom participation. She imagined this future would have benefits for learners, including increased retention rates. McLeod also created illustrations to show how the simulator would work. She won a $150 VISA gift card and 32G iPad Air 2 for her story and illustration.
  • Savannah Vangotum, from Trigg County High School in Cadiz, Ky., imagined a future where each student has a personal robot to help with learning. Vangotum created a story where students learn outside the classroom, meeting with the teacher and a small group of students once per week. For this entry, she won a 32G iPad Air 2 for a winning scenario about the future of education.
  • Layne Shelton, from Trigg County High School in Cadiz, Ky., imagined a future classroom where paper and pencils are no longer necessary, because technology is prevalent throughout all learning. In this more dystopian-style entry, Shelton imagined the negative implications of increased technology and explained that some students will prefer to learn on computers, while others may not. Shelton won a 32G iPad Air 2 for this story.
  • Michelle Strickland, a teacher from Trigg County High School in Cadiz, Ky., was awarded two $100 VISA gift cards for supporting Shelton and Vangotum in their entries.

“We are thrilled to honor these three students, as well as Michelle, for their submissions and creativity,” KnowledgeWorks Senior Director of Strategic Foresight Katherine Prince said. “It’s incredibly valuable to teach students how to think about the future. We focus on history lessons in school, but most of us don’t learn ways of using long-term thinking to guide our life decisions and our contributions to the world.”

Imagine FutureEd invited U.S.-based students to describe possible futures of learning through their eyes. Specifically, the design challenge provided students the opportunity to imagine what learning could look like in 10 years. KnowledgeWorks and Teach the Future sought to elevate students’ perspectives because many discussions about the future of education do not include young people.

“Students benefit from opportunities to practice problem-solving, leadership and creative thinking, which is what this student design challenge offered,” KnowledgeWorks Chief Learning Officer Virgel Hammonds said. “By creating space for student voice, we can learn from their expertise, knowledge and creativity, while bringing renewed relevance to classrooms and schools. At KnowledgeWorks, we work alongside schools to strengthen cultures that lift up student voice in support of personalized learning.”

There were two submission categories. All students submitted written scenarios telling stories about the future of education. Students could also submit “artifacts” from the future. Artifacts included images illustrating their stories. To assist in submission creation, there were five activities to use in classes, after school, with clubs or in other settings.

“Thinking about the future is more difficult than you might think. This is because you’re thinking about the unknown and you’re building upon predictions,” Shelton wrote in the reflection section of her entry. “We are all uncertain of what the future is going to be like.”

The winning scenarios, excerpts from other scenarios and interviews with the winners will be published on and featured in blog posts on KnowledgeWorks’ website.

KnowledgeWorks has been forecasting the future of education since 2006, when it released its first-ever future forecast, the “2006-2016 Map of Future Forces Affecting Education.” The organization released the “2020 Forecast: Creating the Future of Learning” in 2009 and “Recombinant Education: Regenerating the Learning Ecosystem” in 2012. The most recent future forecast, “The Future of Learning: Education in the Era of Partners in Code,” was released in 2015.

As one of the only organizations focused on strategic foresight for education, KnowledgeWorks’ 10-year forecasts and related resources have been read by thousands of people throughout the world. 

About KnowledgeWorks 

KnowledgeWorks is focused on ensuring that every student experiences meaningful personalized learning that allows them to thrive in college, career and civic life. We develop the capabilities of educators to implement and sustain competency-based and early college schools, work with state and federal leaders to establish aligned policy conditions and provide national thought leadership around the future of learning