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CIA aims to inspire Chicago students with contest for $30,000

CIA holding 'Mission Possible' contest to promote hands-on learning
CIA holding 'Mission Possible' contest to promote hands-on learning 02:37

CHICAGO (CBS) – The Central Intelligence Agency, or the CIA, is on a mission in Chicago, and it's not top secret.

In fact, agents want the word to get out to Chicago students, parents, and educators. Morning Insider Lauren Victory showed us how tens of thousands of dollars are on the line.

The theme music was on point as the CIA narrows in on a target: schools.

A teacher and students in Washington, D.C. just won $30,000 from the agency and a celebratory freakout like the one they had is coming to a Chicago classroom this year.

"It could be a public school, a private school, any educator, it doesn't matter, a charter school," said Shane Tilley, who is in charge of the "Mission Possible" competition. "All they have to do is submit a three to four-minute video."

That's for a crack at a massive check worth $30,000 with free reign to create what's called a "makerspace."

"So a makerspace is basically designed around hands-on equipment," Tilley said.

The Mission Possible competition is open to third through twelfth graders. Video entries should explain how $30,000 will promote science, technology, engineering, art, or math learning.

"Some of our past winners have bought things like coding robots with their prize money," Tilley said. "We've had people buy 3D printers."

The students in DC transformed their classroom into a TV studio. In Richmond, the money went toward iPads and other gadgets. Again, this is all funded by the usually highly top-secret CIA.

Why is that?

Tilley: "To get the name our there for our federal agencies that they're looking for our next generation of government employees."

Victory: "So this is like a recruitment tool?"

Tilley: "In some ways, it really is."

To be clear, a CIA job requirement is being above 18 years old, but the agency is clearly trying to entice young minds by catering to kids with a YouTube video from the perspective of a dog and outfitting its website with fun spy motif.

If you're interested in applying and submitting a video, the portal can be found here.

You can also check out the CIA's Spy Kids website at

The deadline to apply is March 10.

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