Student inventors gathered at Southwestern Michigan College Nov. 1 for Innovation Expo and a chance to advance to Western Michigan University’s Innovation Day Friday, Dec. 6.
Fifty-eight students in grades 3-12 were challenged to identify a problem and propose a solution with their 21 projects. Judges determined six winners also based on presentation and display. SMC partnered with the WMU College of Engineering and Applied Sciences and the 16-region MiSTEM Network/Southwest Region to bring the event to Dowagiac.
“We’re excited because we think it’s something that will grow,” said Andew Dohm, SMC STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) adviser and a math/science instructor. “We tried to give them an opportunity to ‘Shark Tank’ their idea to judges.”
“The days of getting paid for what you know are behind us,” Dohm said. “In the future, you’re going to get paid for what you can do, and innovation and creativity are a big part of that. Your future employers are going to be looking for you to solve problems and come up with creative ways to innovate by using things that exist in a different way.”
“This is a good beginning. It’s got so much potential,” said Jason Luke of Kalamazoo RESA, the fiscal agent for MiSTEM Network/Southwest Region. Luke oversees implementation in Cass, Van Buren, Berrien, Barry, Branch, Calhoun, Kalamazoo and St. Joseph counties.
MiSTEM’s state-level emphasis on careers and the workforce around STEM fields and removal of barriers to make STEM education equitably accessible, intends to create a pathway to prosperity that makes Michigan a world leader.
The MiSTEM Network focuses on four success tenets: building a STEM culture, STEM experiences, empowering teachers and integrating business and education.
First place in fifth grade went to Alicen Martin and Greta Howe of Lake Michigan Catholic, St. Joseph, for “Swim Safe,” a water sensor that alerts parents if a young child falls into a pool.
Second was Lake Michigan Catholic’s “Fold-a-tron,” a laundry basket that helps fold clothes.
Marcellus seventh graders Alivia Colley and Madisyn Harrison’s “Swamp Angel Trap” won first. The device, inspired by this fall’s Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) scare, goes in the ground and attracts and dispatches mosquitoes.
Second among seventh graders, Dowagiac Middle School’s Teana Cowley, Hannah Kiggins and Ariel Boyer created Flame Holder, a movable wall-mounted candle container that also accommodates special scents.
Dowagiac Middle School eighth graders captured first place with “Backseat Cup Holder” by Andrew Bryant, Ayden Wilds and Drayton Rusher.
Second also went to Dowagiac Middle School with “Casamble,” an invention that enables people to remove bags from the car and to transport them inside without breaking a sweat by eighth graders A’shyla Washington, Anslie Saylor and Alexandra Gasca.