Our 2022 Public Space Invitational challenge is…

What is a Public Space?

What do we mean by a “public space”?  Think of the new COLUMBIA GATEWAY PLAZA.  It’s a new public space at the corner of Providence and Broadway here in Columbia Missouri.  Successful, inclusive public spaces act as important areas in our cities that allow people to meet, relax, play, and interact with their communities.  They can also be places that invite you to spend time in areas like our own downtown.  Many times these spaces are areas that previously were either neglected or just an area that no one had thought of a good use for it yet, like the corner of Providence and Broadway…

From this…
To this!

Do you have an area by your school that would be a good public space?  Is there already a public space that could be improved?  These are the questions we’d like for you to address in this contest.  We would like to hear what YOU think would be an area that could be created or improved in Columbia.



  • Click here to REGISTER YOUR CLASS FOR THE COMPETITION by April 4th. This competition is open to both public and private schools as well as students who are home-schooled!
  • There are 3 separate divisions for the competition – Kindergarten through 2nd grade, 3rd through 5th grade, and 6th through 8th grade
  • Teachers may enter one design for each class they teach. (For elementary…one entry each unless you teach middle school and in which case you can do one for each class.)
  • If a teacher wishes to have groups compete and then send your winning design from each class to Mr. Szydlowski in the science office. 


  • Design your “new public space“!
    • Your new public space must be designed “to scale”. The design may be presented as a drawing or a model.
    • Your container will be subjected to a 3 minute burn from a propane blow torch placed 5 cm from your container.
    • Your container can be composed of any device EXCEPT those items sold specifically for heat protection.
    • After the three minute burning, your container will be opened and a snapshot of Mr. Melster will be taken.
    • The Columbia STEM Alliance team of Mr. Szydlowski (CPS Science), Mr. Adams (CSA) & Mr. Heimos (City of Columbia) will determine if Mr. Melster was harmed in any way.
    • A photo of your Mr. Melster  “post-burn” will be e-mailed to your teacher (or your parents if you are home schooled).
    • If Mr. Melster was not harmed your class will receive a mission accomplished certificate.
    • For all those who have a healthy Mr. Melster, the winning class in each division (k-2, 3-5 & 6-8) will be the class who constructed the “lightest container.
    • Winning classes in both the Elementary (K-2 & 3-5)  AND Middle School (6-8)  division your class will receive a PIZZA PARTY with a Science Show by Mr. Mike Szydlowski!

Supporting Links for the Classroom