Tampa Bay K-12 students showed off their ingenuity at the USF Young Inventor Competition on February 11 at the Patel Center at the University of South Florida.
The event is an annual tradition honoring Thomas Alva Edison’s birthday. Now in its fifth year, the competition was founded by patent attorney Anton Hopen and his daughter Anna to inspire creativity and innovation among Tampa Bay youth.
The event has grown tremendously, from 80 entries at inception to almost 600 this year. Volunteers, including attorneys, executives, patent holders and inventors, narrow down the entries to determine 10 finalists, who ultimately present their invention in front of judges during the final competition.
Inventions are judged on creativity and originality, quality and persuasiveness / value, benefit to the public and marketability.
"They really look at the whole package," says Kari McDermott, assistant to the director at Innovation Express,
the nonprofit organization that organizes the event
This year's winner was middle school student Mica Jadick, for her cereal sifting device that filters out the crumbs in the last bit of cereal. The second place winner was George Seits, for his French fry condiment holder. Third place went to Katie Warren for her Boo Boo Baboon, a plush toy that holds a cold pack around a child’s arm or leg after an injury. Other finalists included Keely Karnes, who received the Outback Top Trademark Award for HEAR-RINGS, audio ear buds that combine with earring jewelry. Jonathan Ullom also received special recognition for his device that safely clears clogs of grass from lawn mowers.
First, second and third place winners received cash prizes for themselves and their schools, and all participants received passes to the Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI).
The competition currently involves students from Citrus, Hernando, Hillsborough, Manatee, Pasco, Pinellas, Polk and Sarasota counties. The goal is to eventually expand to include more schools within these counties.
Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: Kari McDermott, Innovation Express