Academy Students Win Awards at Connecticut Invention Convention

Seven students from the Academy of Aerospace and Engineering competed in the state finals competition at Connecticut Invention Convention on Saturday, April 27th, at UCONN in Storrs, Connecticut. Of these seven, four students earned awards and scored among the top inventors. Nevertheless, all seven deserve recognition–there were over 17,000 students statewide that began as competitors in local Invention Conventions, and only about 850 made it to the state finals, or about 5%. Therefore, as the leaders of Connecticut Invention Convention stated during the opening and closing ceremonies, all of the students present at the competition had showed success in making it there. Ms. Garavel and I are proud of all of them!

7th grade Academy winner:
Julia Remiszewski – Bungee Buckle (bungee cord device to hold swim goggles on better) – Recognized Inventor Award.

8th grade Academy winners:
Jasmine Barber – EasyClean (cube of non-toxic chemicals that clean greasy pots and pans) – Recognized Inventor Award.

Alyse Karanian – SolarShade (window shade or blinds that have solar cells to absorb heat and generate electricity) – Connecticut Academy of Science and Engineering Award, Eversource Energy Award, and Stanley Black & Decker Award.

Vidhisha Thakkar – Flow Alert (water activated alarm to warn of a flood) – Recognized Inventor Award and Connecticut Academy of Science and Engineering Award.

We will know within the next week if any of these students were selected to progress to the National Invention Convention.

Here are photos of the Academy students at the Connecticut Invention Convention:

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Academy Students Advance to State Finals in Connecticut Invention Convention

Eight students from the Academy of Aerospace and Engineering who were selected as the best inventors at the Newington Invention Convention on March 1st competed in the Regional Connecticut Invention Conventions over the past two weekends. Out of these eight students, seven were selected to advance to the state finals at Connecticut Invention Convention. The state competition is Saturday, April 28, 8:00 AM to 3:00 PM in UCONN’s Gampel Pavilion. This is the second year in a row that seven out of eight academy students, or 88%, have advanced to state finals–the overall percentage of students who advance from the regionals to the state finals is less than 50%. I believe one reason for our high success rate is the academy’s integrated curriculum that includes quite a bit of engineering design, and another reason is that we just have great students!

These state finalists are:

7th graders:
Ryan Claffey – Field Tripper – organizes materials for students on a field trip.
Eli Johnson – Solar Water Purifier – purifies water using just sunlight.
Julia Remiszewski – Bungee Buckle – holds swim goggles in place better than a strap.
Jack Stair – EZ Jacket – allows people with disability to put on and fasten a jacket easily.

8th graders:
Jasmine Barber – EasyClean – uses safe chemicals to thoroughly clean dirty pots & pans.
Alyse Karanian – SolarShade – uses solar cells on window shades to generate electricity.
Vidhisha Thakkar – Flow Alert – provides a warning during a flood.

Here are photos of the state finalists just before they competed at the Regional Invention Convention:

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Academy Students Compete in Local Invention Convention

On March 1st, all the students in the Academy of Aerospace and Engineering competed in a local Invention Convention, a feeder competition for the Connecticut Invention Convention. Ms. Garavel and I assigned the initial task to our students in mid-December by kicking off with a presentation on the requirements for the competition. Each student was tasked to design, build, and present an original invention to a group of judges. To help give the students ideas and to help them understand what an inventor goes through to create an invention, we Skyped with Ayana Klein, a high school inventor in Fairfield, Connecticut. Ayana has started her own company, 3Dux Design, based on her invention of modular architectural kits. Through December, January, and February, we gave the students about one or two class periods per week to work on their inventions, test and refine them, and practice their presentations. Students brought in their complete inventions about a week before the competition so that they could practice presenting to many different audiences.

The competition finally came on March 1st when dozens of school staff, parents, family members, and friends came to see the inventors and their inventions. We also had a special guest, Dan Amarante of Fox 61, who did interviews for his special feature on innovation in education, Great State of Minds. We expect to see the story on television on Tuesday morning, March 6th. The main event for the competition was when each inventor presented his or her invention to the judges made up of a group of volunteers from two local aerospace firms, GKN Aerospace and PCX Aerostructures.  Bruce Fiedorowicz, Executive Director of the Aerospace Components Manufacturers (ACM) was also there as a long-time supporter of the academy, and he helped advise the judges and hand out the awards. The judges used the Connecticut Invention Convention criteria to select the top 15% of inventors, or eight out of a total of fifty-one competitors. These eight winners will go on to compete in the Connecticut Central Regional Invention Convention on March 24th. Winners from that event go on to the state Connecticut Invention Convention on April 28th at UCONN’s Gampell Pavilion. Here are the winning inventors and their inventions:

7th graders:
Ryan Claffey – Field Tripper – organizes materials for students on a field trip.
Eli Johnson – Solar Water Purifier – purifies water using just sunlight.
Julia Remiszewski – Bungee Buckle – holds swim goggles in place better than a strap.
Jack Stair – EZ Jacket – allows people with disability to put on and fasten a jacket easily.

8th graders:
Jasmine Barber – EasyClean – uses safe chemicals to thoroughly clean dirty pots & pans.
Alyse Karanian – SolarShade – uses solar cells on window shades to generate electricity.
Shiven Patel – Auto Jack – uses hydraulic assist to make jacking a car easier.
Vidhisha Thakkar – Flow Alert – provides a warning during a flood.

Here are photos of the competition and of all the competitors (a special thanks to Kaitlin Norton, Newington Public Schools Digital Content Specialist, who took most of the photos):

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What do students think of all this? Here are some of the reflections they wrote today:

“What I liked about the whole invention convention process is that it is a good way to apply the EDP [engineering design process] to an invention. I think that it was a good friendly competition. I liked that it took a while and hard work to get the process done.”

“I’ve learned a lot over the past few months that I have been working on my invention. Firstly, I learned that I should be proud of everything that I have done, no matter what happens. I worked hard, brainstormed and came up with my invention and built it, that is what matters. It’s not about winning, or going to the next level, it’s about working hard and trying your best.”

“Invention Convention is a remarkable experience that has taught me many new things. Compared to last year I felt more prepared because of experience from the previous year. I was able to use the experience from last year to help me from building the invention to giving the presentation…I learned some new things such as how to work with a circuit and also about flooding. It is also a great opportunity to practice presentation skills which is a very important skill in life. Additionally, I have learned to listen to other peoples feedback and use it to benefit you rather than getting offended. Overall this is a great experience and I have learned a lot and hopefully, I can continue the journey to learn.”

“After participating in the Invention Convention, I was able to take a lot away from the experience. This is because it was another great way to practice the engineering design process, but unlike other EDPs, we also were able to choose essentially any topic to work on and could share our ideas with friends, family, and teachers other than Mr. Holmes and Mrs. Garavel. Because of this, I feel that this is the perfect project to really show others what we do here in the academy. Also, it really helped to practice public speaking, a skill that anybody could use, whether they go into STEM or not.”

Lessons Learned on Invention Convention

Students at the Academy of Aerospace and Engineering have competed in Invention Convention for the past two years (the academy’s entire existence), so it’s useful to reflect on what went well and what could be improved. Invention Convention is an outstanding STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) competition where each student designs and builds an invention, either a model or a prototype, and produces a trifold display, then presents these products to a panel of judges. We participated in Connecticut Invention Convention (CIC) both years, and this year we had four students make it to the national competition, National Invention Convention and Entrepreneurship Expo (NICEE).

CIC begins with a local competition that a teacher or advisor sets up in the school or community–I set up one in our academy facility, and I required all of my students to compete and invited other teachers to let their students compete. I followed the CIC guidance, which CIC provides through excellent one-day training sessions with loads of downloadable materials. We set up the area similar to the way the state and national competitions are run with students in “judging circles” of about six students each. CIC provides a process for students to follow to design and build their invention, but I used a similar NASA engineering design process that our academy uses. To get judges for the local competition, I recruited volunteers from two aerospace firms in our town, GKN Aerospace and PCX Aerostructures. CIC recommends using outside, impartial judges, vs. teachers or parents, and I found this to be excellent advice. The first year I did all this, I gave my students some informal time to present their inventions to one another before the competition. Their feedback after the competition was that they had some difficulty knowing what to say to the judges. Therefore, this year I gave my students a few days to practice presenting. We started with a day where we brainstormed as a class on what to say, then we took those items and created a 2-minute pitch that every student practiced and gave to the class. In feedback after this year’s competition, many students felt the pitch was helpful, including those that competed all the way up to NICEE.

Our experience at each level of Invention Convention this year was very positive. I have posted previously on our local Newington Invention Convention, on the Central Regional CIC, and and on the state CIC. In summary, this year we had about 60 students compete locally, of whom nine (15%) were allowed by CIC rules to advance to the regional competition–the nine top inventors picked by the judges. Of these nine, eight (89%) advanced from the regionals to the state competition (CIC). Of these eight state competitors, four (50%) advanced to the national competition (NICEE) and won major awards at CIC. These percentages are very high, well above average, and I attribute them to our continual focus on creative work and engineering design in the academy and on our preparation for Invention Convention following CIC guidance.

This year was the first time we sent students to NICEE. The competition was held at a small venue, the US Patent and Trademark Office in Alexandria, VA, and only one parent was allowed in with each student. I thought this was unfortunate, as I would have liked to attend. Next year’s competition at the Ford Museum in Michigan should allow for more people to attend. However, I followed the competition online, including the awards ceremony that was streamed live. My observations were that the NICEE criteria for awards were generally in line with those of CIC, but NICEE seemed to emphasize commercial potential of inventions over solving problems in various fields. Nevertheless, my four NICEE competitors told me afterwards that they felt they were well prepared for the competition. In the end at NICEE, one of the four students (25%), Olivia Mullings, was a runner up for the Innovation in Electronics award for her Temp Safe invention that helped save babies or pets locked in a hot car. Here are photos from my four students who competed at NICEE:

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Academy students Olivia, Shiven, Jasmine, and Alek prepare to compete in National Invention Convention and Entrepreneurship Expo (NICEE)

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I strongly recommend Invention Convention as one of the best STEM competitions your students can enter. While I like team STEM competitions and have coached several of them, I think that the solo competition in Invention Convention is also very beneficial since it gives every student a chance. If you are a STEM teacher in Connecticut and use the materials that CIC provides, you should find it is not difficult to coach your students or even to set up your own local competition.

Four Academy Students Selected for National Invention Convention

Four students from the Academy of Aerospace and Engineering will be going to the National Invention Convention/Entrepreneurship Expo (NICEE) in Alexandria, Virginia later this week. These students have won at each level of Invention Convention and earned a spot at the national competition. First they competed and won in our local Newington Invention Convention on March 16th, then they competed and won at the Central Regional Invention Convention on April 8th, then they competed and won at the Connecticut Invention Convention on April 29th. Statistically, the academy would have been lucky to have one student make the national competition, so to have four going is extraordinary. Over 17,000 students from Connecticut competed in Invention Convention this year, and about 100 of those will go to NICEE, or about 0.6%. We had all fifty academy students compete in our local Newington Invention Convention, and we have four students going to NICEE, or 8% of our original competitors – this means we had over ten times as many students make the nationals as the average school.

Here are our national competitors and the awards they got at the state-level Connecticut Invention Convention on April 29th:

7th grade Academy winners:
Jasmine Barber – Sno Away (rolling snow shovel that avoids back strain) – Recognized Inventor Award and Connecticut Science and Engineering Fair Award.

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Shiven Patel – Stop, Drop, and Spot (beacon to help find fire extinguisher in smokey room) – Recognized Inventor Award and Connecticut Academy of Science and Engineering Award.

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8th grade Academy winners:
Alek Jorge – Smart Helm (fireman’s helmet with sensors and transmitter to alert incident commander if fireman is hurt or down) – Recognized Inventor Award, Connecticut Fire Marshals Fire Safety Award, and Angel Investors Forum/Connecticut Venture Group Young Entrepreneur Award (this award connects Alek with potential investors in his invention).

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Olivia Mullings – Temp Safe (alarm system if baby or pet is left in hot car) – Frank J. Link Family Award for Innovation in Technology Award, Boehringer Ingelheim Cares Foundation Life Sciences Award, United Technologies Corporation Moving the World Forward Award, and the McCormick, Paulding, and Huber Patent Award (this award was given last and highlighted as the top award which provides about $10,000 in legal services for a patent search and application).

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Ms. Garavel and I wish these students the best of luck at NICEE later this week!

Academy Students Win Top Awards at Connecticut Invention Convention

On Saturday, April 29, 2017, Ms. Garavel and I cheered on seven Academy of Aerospace and Engineering students at the state-level Connecticut Invention Convention (CIC) at UCONN – Storrs in Gampel Pavilion. These seven students were the winners at the Central Regional CIC event on April 8th – four eighth graders, and three seventh graders. Inventors at CIC could win two types of awards: judges gave Recognized Inventor Awards to the best two inventors in every circle of eight or nine inventors, and various sponsors also gave awards. Two of our eighth graders and two of our seventh graders earned two or more awards today, and one eighth grader, Olivia Mullings, got four awards, including the top award at the very end – and all four of these students were selected to compete in the national competition in June — here are the details:

7th grade Academy winners:
Jasmine BarberSno Away (rolling snow shovel that avoids back strain) – Recognized Inventor Award and Connecticut Science and Engineering Fair Award.
Shiven PatelStop, Drop, and Spot (beacon to help find fire extinguisher in smokey room) – Recognized Inventor Award and Connecticut Academy of Science and Engineering Award.

8th grade Academy winners:
Alek JorgeSmart Helm (fireman’s helmet with sensors and transmitter to alert incident commander if fireman is hurt or down) – Recognized Inventor Award, Connecticut Fire Marshals Fire Safety Award, and Angel Investors Forum/Connecticut Venture Group Young Entrepreneur Award (this award connects Alek with potential investors in his invention).
Olivia MullingsTemp Safe (alarm system if baby or pet is left in hot car) – Frank J. Link Family Award for Innovation in Technology Award, Boehringer Ingelheim Cares Foundation Life Sciences Award, United Technologies Corporation Moving the World Forward Award, and the McCormick, Paulding, and Huber Patent Award (this award was given last and highlighted as the top award which provides about $10,000 in legal services for a patent search and application).

Here are photos of the Academy students as they prepared to be judged:

 

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Here are photos from the awards ceremony and celebration afterwards:

Here are the statistics for this competition to put it all in perspective:

  • 17,000 students across Connecticut competed in local CIC competitions this year — we had 56 competitors at our local event in March (50 students from the Academy of Aerospace and Engineering, and 6 from the STEM clubs in JWMS and MKMS) – so we made up about 0.3% of all Connecticut competitors.
  • The top 15% of inventors from the local competitions competed in one of five regional competitions this year — we had 9 competitors go the Central Regional CIC in early April (four 8th graders and four 7th graders from the Academy of Aerospace and Engineering, and one student from JWMS STEM club). Volunteers from GKN Aerospace and PCX Aerostructures judged the inventors and picked the winners who advanced to regionals from our local CIC.
  • The top 40% of inventors from the regional events, 660 students total from 87 Connecticut school districts, went to the state CIC — we had 7 competitors (all four 8th graders, and three of the four 7th graders from the regional event) – so we advanced at more than double the average rate (100% of 8th graders advanced, and 75% of 7th graders advanced) and we made up about 1% of the competitors at the state event.
  • There were about 300 total awards given at the state CIC, so about one award for every two students – so it would have been reasonable for us to get about three awards, yet we got eleven awards, far above the average, including the top Angel Investor Award and the Patent Award.

I give all these statistics to show that today’s CIC results validated the Academy of Aerospace and Engineering as a strong STEM program where students are learning the concepts and skills sought by universities and industry. I recommend this program highly to any elementary or middle school STEM teacher for your students.

All four students will also be competing in the National Invention Convention and Entrepreneurship Expo on June 1-3, 2017 in Alexandria, Virginia. 

Academy Students Advance to State Finals in Connecticut Invention Convention

On Saturday, April 8th, eight students from Newington’s Academy of Aerospace and Engineering competed in the Central Regional Connecticut Invention Convention at Goodwin College in East Hartford. These eight students (four academy 7th graders and four academy 8th graders) were the top inventors from our school district Invention Convention competition on March 16th. Seven of the eight (all four 8th graders and three out of the four 7th graders) earned top scores to advance to the Connecticut Invention Convention state finals on April 29th. Ms. Garavel and I are proud of all eight students, as they all prepared and competed well at the Central Regional event. These results also show that the volunteers from GKN Aerospace and PCX Aerostructures who judged the inventors at our school district Invention Convention identified our strongest candidates, given that seven out of eight winners at our school district event will go on to the state finals. The state finalists’ names and their inventions are:

 

8th grade/Academy
Brandon Fiore – “Thermo Plate”
Tyler Frohock – “White Out Vest”
Alek Jorge – “Smart Helm”
Olivia Mullings – “Temp Safe”

7th grade/Academy
Jasmine Barber – “Sno-Away”
Shiven Patel – “Stop, Drop, and Spot”
Emmanuel Thomas – “Charger Clip”

Here are photos of these state finalists as they prepared to meet the judges on April 8th at the Central Regional Connecticut Invention Convention:

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