KINGSPORT — What do food trucks, creative use of surplus government money and land grants, soil and seeds vending machine, aquaponics and ultrasonic pest control have in common?

They all came to the forefront Monday when some local high school students showcased their ideas for solutions to food insecurity, and at least the top three finishers will get to travel to Nashville for a Tennessee competition May 4-5.

D-B EXCEL held its first local competition feeding into the Statewide Design Challenge Showcase, a STEM (science, technology, engineering and math)  event at the Kingsport City Schools Administrative Support Center in the Press Building downtown. D-B EXCEL science and STEM teacher Antonia Adinolfi said the subject of food insecurity  was chosen by the Tennessee Department of Agriculture and Tennessee STEM Innovation Network, who jointly are holding the statewide event.

Adinolfi said 40 D-B EXCEL students among 11 teams participated in the expo, which involved all students in science classes, and had top three finishers and a Judges Award. The starting point is that although Tennessee historically has been an agricultural and farming state, one in five Tennesseans don’t know the source of their next meal and the projected 2050 world population is 9 billion. In that context, the project focuses on how people should grow, transport and consume food.

1. The Engineering Award, or first-place award, went to Team 10, made up of Ethan Evans, Asheton Shepard and Alyssa Anderson, and the team used aquaponics.

2. The Innovation Award, or second place award, went to Team 4, made up of Alex Graham, Jessica Manis, Hannah Archer, Seth Kinsler and Aiden Brown. That team’s presentation included using government surplus funds and land grants.

3.The Marketing Award, or third place award, went to Team 5, made up of Mattie Stoddard and Kaleigh Radtke, a team that utilized a food truck idea.

4. The Judges Award, or fourth place award, went to Team 11, made up of Quin Bently, Capri Wall, Faith Holtzclaw and Maddie Mullins. That team’s presentation included using ultrasonic pest control.

Adinolfi said that the top three finishers will get to go to Nashville for sure via nomination and the fourth-place team might get to go. However, she said some fundraising will have to occur to fund the overnight trip for the students.

Those involved with the supporting program include Eastman Chemical Co., STREAMWORKS Powered by Eastman, Appalachian Sustainable Development, Food City, Second Harvest Food Bank of Northeast Tennessee, Pal’s Sudden Service, First Presbyterian Church of Kingsport, University of Tennessee/Tennessee State University Agriculture Extension Office.

D-B EXCEL, an outgrowth of Dobyns-Bennett High School, is a blended-learning program launched in 2017 and became a STEM school in 2018.