The K-12 InVenture Prize Competition Returns to Georgia Tech Campus to Honor Student Inventors from Across the State
More than five hundred people — including young student inventors from across the state, their parents and teachers, along with Georgia Tech students, staff and faculty and community partners and friends — celebrated the live return of the K-12 InVenture Prize State Finals Competition on March 15 at the Georgia Institute of Technology.
After a two-year hiatus due to Covid concerns, the K-12 InVenture Prize State Finals returned to campus bigger than ever as a synchronous and in-person field trip experience for 101 student teams who advanced from the online qualifier and regional qualifiers of the competition. More than 30 students were honored with awards. A select few of these winners will go on to Invention Convention U.S. Nationals at The Henry Ford in Dearborn, Michigan June 7-9.
The K-12 InVenture Prize, an invention and entrepreneurship program and competition in the Center for Education Integrating Science, Mathematics and Computing (CEISMC), challenges kindergarten through high school students in Georgia to identify real-world problems and design novel solutions through analysis, creativity, and the engineering design process.
"These amazing students and teachers bring so much creativity, passion, and inventiveness to their creations and to this competition,” said Roxanne Moore, senior research engineer and director of the K-12 InVenture Prize program. “Being together, in person, for the first time in a while is very special. There was so much energy and imagination in that room—it was truly inspiring.”
At the ceremony, each first-place team received a patent search or patent filing offered by the Georgia Intellectual Property Alliance (GIPA), which was presented at the ceremony by GIPA’s Michael Frnka. Cameron Schriner, an engineer with local software company IronCAD, also presented at the event along with keynote speaker Christin Salley, a third-year civil engineering Ph.D. student at Georgia Tech and the president of the Black Graduate Student Association.
Award-winning student projects included:
the “Plapper,” a product that turns the invasive Kudzu vine into sustainable plastic and paper products;
an innovative catalytic converter and aerosol spray can that reduces carbon and chlorofluorocarbon emissions;
a portable wheelchair ramp;
a sustainable cooking device that relies on a sand battery to store solar energy;
a recycling-themed game for young school children;
a sustainability-focused mobile app that shows users greenhouse gas emissions associated with the production of meals; and
“ConVo Bot,” a chatbot app that serves as a safe space for individuals with social anxiety.
“We couldn’t be more proud of these students,” said Danyelle Larkin, educational outreach manager for the K-12 InVenture Prize program. “These young inventors have demonstrated the problem-solving, creativity, STEM, and critical thinking skills that will shape the leaders of tomorrow. Their tenacity and empathy make us incredibly hopeful for the future!”
Proud mom Sade Aeyi said that her daughter, Tishe Aeyi from Tritt Elementary, received a massive boost of confidence just from attending the event. “Being able to see all the other kids in the hall, many high school kids, showing these innovative projects that they have worked on really made my daughter feel like ‘my ideas are good, and my ideas are creative, and I can take them far,’” she said. “It is so important for children to be able to harness their creativity because we want them to be able to think outside the box. We want people who can see problems and not just think of them as challenges but think about them as opportunities for innovation.”
Retired Georgia Tech Vice Provost for Graduate and Undergraduate Studies Raymond Vito, who was one of the founders of the InVenture Prize at Georgia Tech, said he returned to judge the competition this year, in part, because of the recognition the students received from the attendees, including judges, sponsors, and volunteers. “The adult recognition of what the students have accomplished is about as important as anything else,” explained Vito, who is also Professor Emeritus of Mechanical Engineering. “That’s the most significant thing — the interaction, the excitement of the students and how we react to it.”
In addition to the award ceremony, students participated in hands-on STEM activities and met with judges to present their projects. The day of events concluded with the annual InVenture Prize at Georgia Tech competition at the Ferst Center for the Arts that aired lived on Georgia Public Broadcasting and online. Nicknamed “American Idol for Nerds,” the Emmy Award-winning InVenture Prize at Georgia Tech is an interdisciplinary innovation competition open to all Tech undergraduate students.
To see a full list of winners and their projects, please visit k12inventure.gatech.edu/competition2023.
—Randy Trammell, CEISMC Communications