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Invention Studio

Middle Schoolers Invent the Future

By January 30, 2023February 1st, 2023No Comments

How many ideas do middle schoolers have for improving our world? Hundreds – and some of the most creative and smartly designed were on display at the Invent the Future Challenge Winter Summit, held Jan. 21 at the Universities at Shady Grove.

Participating students from Montgomery County public middle schools were challenged at the beginning of the school year to work in small teams all semester and create something to answer a big question posed by KID Museum: “What will you make to improve life on this planet?” 

Meeting the planet’s need for clean water was very evidently on the minds of the young makers. Many teams created prototypes of all sorts of devices and systems to collect garbage from oceans, catch trash floating down rivers, and desalinate seawater for drinking.

Other inventions included a wind-powered composter, a mobile cooler for delivering fresh food to people experiencing homelessness, a phone app that filters out racist content, and a drone that spots and attracts stray dogs and cats while alerting animal shelters to come for them.

Summit keynote speaker Dr. Karriem Watson from the National Institutes of Health’s All of Us Research Program encouraged students to reframe a question commonly on a middle schooler’s mind. The right question about your future isn’t, “What do I want to be when I grow up,” Watson said. Instead, the right question is, “What problems do I want to solve when I grow up?”

“There are ideas that you all have today that I am 100% convinced will revolutionize the way we think about science and technology and our future,” Watson told the students.

Students, educators and their families from Briggs Chaney, William H. Farquhar, Silver Spring International, Parkland, Shady Grove, and White Oak middle schools celebrated the projects at a closing awards ceremony. They were joined by local leaders who highlighted the students’ creativity and STEM work as they presented awards recognizing particular strength in teams’ collaboration, presentation, and their inventions’ potential impact. 

Launched in 2017, Invent the Future is a KID Museum partnership with Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS), open to all DC-area middle schools. The Challenge encourages innovative thinking and develops technical and social-emotional skills that are essential for future success in the workforce and life, such as teamwork and empathy. Approximately 2,000 students and their teachers are participating in this year’s challenge, which includes a spring summit upcoming in June.

KID Museum greatly appreciates our partners MCPS and the Universities at Shady Grove and Invent the Future sponsors Google and PEPCO.

Congratulations to these teams that won awards at the winter Summit


Presented by Mongomery County Executive Marc Elrich

Factory Filters

Greenhouse gas filters for industrial factories

Farquhar Middle School

Local Changemaker

Presented by Montgomery County Councilmember Will Jawando

SGMS Portable Lockers

Versatile in-school storage solutions for students

Shady Grove Middle School

Divine Dietary

An app to promote healthy school lunch choices

Farquhar Middle School

Pets Best Friend

A robot to care for stray dogs and direct them to shelters

Parkland Middle School

Collaborative Design

Presented by Tasha Jamerson of PEPCO

Creating Fresh Water in Libya

Water desalination for coastal homes

Shady Grove Middle School

Puerto Rico Floods

A generator powered by stormwater

Shady Grove Middle School

Social Impact

Presented by Dr. Peggy Pugh, Chief Academic Officer of Montgomery County Public Schools

Foodmobile for the Homeless

On-demand refrigerated food delivery

Shady Grove Middle School

E.L.M. App

A phone filter that prevents seeing or posting racist content

Farquhar Middle School


Presented by Sumindi Peiris, President of Bethesda Magazine & Bethesda Beat

Drone Mobile

Finder and rescuer of stray pets

Parkland Middle School

Water Powered Litter Collector

A vacuum that removes and sorts trash from waterways

Briggs Chaney Middle School

Call to Action

Presented by Cori Lathan, Board Chair & CEO of AnthroTronix

Reduce Waste in El Salvador

A self-driving, music-playing garbage collector

Shady Grove Middle School