“Inspiring,” “impressive,” and “amazing” are a few of the words used to describe the inventions presented at the second annual, middle school Invent the Future Challenge Summit.
With 189 teams (twice the number from last year) and 41 schools participating, the event at Gaithersburg High School drew a huge crowd. Throughout the day, volunteer judges interviewed students about their original prototypes, listening to how their ideas could help protect life on the planet. Professionals from NOAA, NIST, Pepco, Emergent BioSolutions, University of Maryland, UMBC, and Johns Hopkins University, were universally impressed with the students’ ingenuity, creativity, and passion.
Family members, friends, and distinguished guests — including Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich, County Council members, local business leaders, and education leaders — had an opportunity to view the projects, which ranged from saltwater purification mechanisms, to forest fire detection systems, to smart gardening watering devices.
While sixteen teams walked away with awards and prizes, teachers, parents, and judges agreed that the experience had a positive impact for everyone.
Kamal Narang, coach of a seventh-grade team at Frost Middle School, said his son learned about tenacity and teamwork. Janice Rolle, the mother of a Sligo Middle School seventh-grader, said her daughter enjoyed thinking about “real problems, real solutions through the world of science, and learning how important that is for society as a whole.”
Keynote speaker, Dr. Shanika Hope, Head of Content and Research at Amazon Web Services Educate, applauded the Invent the Future Challenge for teaching young people the value of “embracing failure on the path to innovation” and said she was hugely impressed by the creativity on display: “If you are the next generation of inventors, I’m feeling hopeful about the future.”
Thank you to all of the educators, volunteers, school officials, parents, and most of all the students who participated in this year’s Invent the Future Challenge. We can’t wait to see how you will go on to “invent the future.”
Special thanks to our sponsors MCPS, The Jim and Carol Trawick Foundation, Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), Best Buy, Six Flags, Montgomery College, and M&T Bank.