MTSU
READING

MTSU Invention Conventioneers can ‘come up with an...

MTSU Invention Conventioneers can ‘come up with anything’; 19 teams head to national event [+VIDEO]

If you’ve ever wondered what the future looks and sounds like, come to an event like MTSU’s 27th annual Invention Convention.

A ponytailed future CEO makes a confident, succinct elevator pitch for her team’s product. A bashful builder turns bold as he enthusiastically outlines his invention’s usefulness to a competition judge. A researcher explains the team’s invention and how the idea differs from reality.

“That’s what happens when we push these kids a little bit to do the things they can do and give them the tools to do it,” Deanna Freeman, an elementary intervention educator at Castle Heights Elementary School in Lebanon, Tennessee, said Feb. 21.

Around her, nearly 800 fourth-, fifth- and sixth-graders from 52 Middle Tennessee schools scurried around the university’s Student Union ballroom while teachers, family and other supporters looked on.

“They can pretty much come up with anything.”

New Jersey sibling inventor-entrepreneurs Joey, center left, and Heidi Hudicka encourage local fourth-, fifth- and sixth-graders attending MTSU's 27th annual Invention Convention, held Feb. 21 in the university's Student Union Ballroom, to "make that leap" to share their ideas with the world. Nearly 800 Midstate youngsters attended this year's event, displaying a total of 375 inventions and accompanied by their teachers, families and other supporters. (MTSU photo by J. Intintoli)

New Jersey sibling inventor-entrepreneurs Joey, center left, and Heidi Hudicka encourage local fourth-, fifth- and sixth-graders attending MTSU’s 27th annual Invention Convention, held Feb. 21 in the university’s Student Union ballroom, to “make that leap” to share their ideas with the world. Nearly 800 Midstate youngsters attended this year’s event, displaying a total of 375 inventions and accompanied by their teachers, families and other supporters. (MTSU photo by J. Intintoli)

Each year, the youngsters use a maximum of $25 to create and present inventions from one of two categories —”Games” and “Make Our Lives Easier” — and compete for trophies, ribbons and even cash awards. Local winners make their mark on the National Invention Conventions, too, bringing home multiple national honors that so far have included the 2016 Stanley Black and Decker’s “Cool Tool” Award and the 2017 Henry Ford Student Innovators of the Year.

The 2019 national event is set May 29-31 at the Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation in Dearborn, Michigan. A list of the 19 teams of local inventors judges invited to the National Invention Convention is at http://ow.ly/cMPX30nO0La.

“Everything starts with an idea,” convention director Tracey Huddleston, a professor in MTSU’s Department of Elementary and Special Education, again reminded the young inventors.

“Each of you came here with an idea to make something new that never existed before. You are amazing.”

A trio of innovators from Murfreesboro’s Mitchell-Neilson Elementary School discuss their “Keep Calm & Cool Basketball Game” at MTSU's 27th annual Invention Convention, held Feb. 21 in the university's Student Union Ballroom. From left are fourth-grader Keeley Vaughn, fifth-grader Breanna Nolen and fourth-grader Malaki Frierson, who found their inspiration in sports and a special person in their lives. The three were among nearly 800 Midstate youngsters attending this year's event, displaying a total of 375 inventions. (MTSU photo by News and Media Relations)

Three innovators from Murfreesboro’s Mitchell-Neilson Elementary School discuss their “Keep Calm & Cool Basketball Game” at MTSU’s 27th annual Invention Convention, held Feb. 21 in the university’s Student Union ballroom. From left are fourth-grader Keeley Vaughn, fifth-grader Breanna Nolen and fourth-grader Malaki Frierson, who found their inspiration in sports and a special person in their lives. The three were among nearly 800 Midstate youngsters attending this year’s event, displaying a total of 375 inventions. (MTSU photo by News and Media Relations)

A trio from Murfreesboro’s Mitchell-Neilson Elementary School took their inspiration from sports and a special person in their lives. Fourth-graders Malaki Frierson and Keeley Vaughn and fifth-grader Breanna Nolen brainstormed the “Keep Calm & Cool Basketball Game” as their invention because they love both board games and basketball.

“You roll the two green dice and add the numbers, then move and draw a card and do what it says,” Frierson explained, noting that the colorful game also features cheerful rainbows. “You can shoot one basket, then write a compliment card if you win.”

“We made enough winners’ cards so everybody can do one,” added Vaughn.

“We want everyone to feel good about themselves,” Nolen said. “We got the idea from our principal (Robin Newell, an MTSU alumna) because she’s always really happy, and we wanted everybody to feel that way with our game.”

A list of the 2019 MTSU Invention Convention winners is at http://ow.ly/F9aC30nO0KL. A searchable PDF of this year’s convention program, which includes the names of all the young inventors, is at http://ow.ly/J8UW30nO0Op. You also can watch a video from the event above.

State Farm Insurance is the longtime local sponsor of MTSU’s annual Invention Convention.

MTSU Invention Convention judge Phil King, center left, listens intently as inventor Bailey Batzloff, right, explains her team's game, "Ozobot Land," Feb. 21 in the Student Union Ballroom as her fellow inventors Reagan Turnbow, left, and Amaris McDuffie, center, wait their turn. The Murfreesboro Siegel Middle School trio's invention at the 27th annual event won first place in the Sixth Grade Games category, and the trio has been invited to the 2019 National Invention Convention in Dearborn, Mich., in May. (MTSU photo by J. Intintoli)

MTSU Invention Convention judge Phil King, center left, listens intently as inventor Bailey Batzloff, right, explains her team’s game, “Ozobot Land,” Feb. 21 in the Student Union ballroom as her fellow inventors Reagan Turnbow, left, and Amaris McDuffie, center, wait their turn. The Murfreesboro Siegel Middle School trio’s invention at the 27th annual event won first place in the Sixth Grade Games category, and they’ve been invited to the 2019 National Invention Convention in Dearborn, Mich., in May. (MTSU photo by J. Intintoli)

New Jersey sibling inventor-entrepreneurs Heidi, left, and Joey Hudicka encourage local fourth-, fifth- and sixth-graders attending MTSU's 27th annual Invention Convention, held Feb. 21 in the university's Student Union Ballroom, to "make that leap" to share their ideas with the world. Nearly 800 Midstate youngsters attended this year's event, displaying a total of 375 inventions. (MTSU photo by J. Intintoli)

New Jersey sibling inventor-entrepreneurs Heidi, left, and Joey Hudicka encourage local fourth-, fifth- and sixth-graders attending MTSU’s 27th annual Invention Convention, held Feb. 21 in the university’s Student Union ballroom, to “make that leap” to share their ideas with the world. Nearly 800 Midstate youngsters attended this year’s event, displaying a total of 375 inventions. (MTSU photo by J. Intintoli)

Guest speakers since 1992 have included astronauts, artists, athletes, musicians, scientists and historians. This year marked the first time young Midstate inventors have heard from their peers: New Jersey residents Heidi and Joey Hudicka, sibling inventors with interactive board games, a book about innovations and their own family company, Fizzee Labs.

The exuberant pair, 12 and 17, respectively, said their homegrown inventiveness began when Joey was 5 and came up with a strategy game from a stack of hockey trading cards, cardboard and markers.

“A couple years later, iPhones came out,” Joey recalled, pulling out his own smartphone and turning it sideways. “My game looked like an ice rink. Guess what is in the shape of an ice rink? An iPhone.

“So, being a typical 7-year-old kid, I asked my parents, ‘Can I make my board game into an app?’ And they said, ‘… Sure?’ No one knew how to make apps back then. But we found some developers and … after a year, I had my first app on the App Store and I had sales in 60 countries, all because I made that leap and I asked.”

Heidi’s entrepreneur gene emerged early too, when she realized that the doll clothing website she’d developed at age 4 was costing her too much time sewing.

“I really didn’t like the sewing part of it. So I came into school and I asked if I could outsource the sewing to them,” Heidi recalled. “They just looked at me like ‘uhhhh.’ They didn’t understand that they didn’t have to wait until you’re 20 and out of college to have a business.”

Each convention also showcases an everyday invention and explains its history, such as a tape measure, golf ball, USB charger, Frisbee, dice, sunglasses and yo-yo. This year conventioneers learned about the Solo Cup, earning surprised reactions from several adults unaware how the drink container is manufactured.

Each young inventor received a custom MTSU Blue “Invention Convention 2019” cup to take home, where its special double-dipped thickness will allow them to reuse it for years.

You can learn more about MTSU’s event, sponsored by the College of Education, at www.facebook.com/MTSUInventionConvention. The national convention website is http://inventionconvention.org.

— Gina E. Fann (gina.fann@mtsu.edu)

Fourth-, fifth- and sixth-graders from across Middle Tennessee are joined by their teachers, families and other supporters to hear announcements of the winners of MTSU's 27th annual Invention Convention, held Feb. 21 in the university's Student Union Ballroom. Nearly 800 Midstate youngsters attended this year's event, displaying a total of 375 inventions. (MTSU photo by J. Intintoli)

Fourth-, fifth- and sixth-graders from across Middle Tennessee are joined by their teachers, families and other supporters to hear announcements of the winners of MTSU’s 27th annual Invention Convention, held Feb. 21 in the university’s Student Union ballroom. Nearly 800 Midstate youngsters attended this year’s event, displaying a total of 375 inventions. (MTSU photo by J. Intintoli)

MTSU Invention Convention judges Katie Schrodt, left, a Department of Elementary and Special Education professor, and Middle Tennessee Christian School Principal Melanie Maxwell, center, play with the “Kickball King” board game invented by Erma Siegel Elementary fourth-graders Aurora Nelson-Keener, Lillian Bunney and Claire Couey as some of their classmates watch Feb. 21 in the Student Union Ballroom. Aurora, Lillian and Claire’s game won a ribbon as a “Judges’ Favorite” in the Fourth Grade Games category. (MTSU photo by J. Intintoli)

MTSU Invention Convention judges Katie Schrodt, left, a Department of Elementary and Special Education professor, and Middle Tennessee Christian School Principal Melanie Maxwell, center, play with the “Kickball King” board game invented by Erma Siegel Elementary fourth-graders Aurora Nelson-Keener, Lillian Bunney and Claire Couey as some of their classmates watch Feb. 21 in the Student Union ballroom. Aurora, Lillian and Claire’s game won a ribbon as a “Judges’ Favorite” in the Fourth Grade Games category. (MTSU photo by J. Intintoli)

“Electrical Connector” game inventor Avery Sellars, right, from Winfree Bryant Middle School in Lebanon, Tenn., explains her plan to judges Bob Hughes, left, and Sara Simmons Feb. 21 at MTSU’s 27th annual Invention Convention. Avery’s invention won a ribbon as a “Judges’ Favorite” in the Sixth Grade Games category. (MTSU photo by J. Intintoli)

“Electrical Connector” game inventor Avery Sellars, right, from Winfree Bryant Middle School in Lebanon, Tenn., explains her plan to judges Bob Hughes, left, and Sara Simmons Feb. 21 at MTSU’s 27th annual Invention Convention. Avery’s invention won a ribbon as a “Judges’ Favorite” in the Sixth Grade Games category. (MTSU photo by J. Intintoli)

Murfreesboro sixth-graders Brianna Guthrie, left, and Abby Gibbs of Northfield Elementary School have the solution to "Make Life Easier" after Middle Tennessee's weeks of soggy weather: "The Rain Stopper," their creation for MTSU's 27th annual Invention Convention, held Feb. 21 in the university's Student Union Ballroom. The duo was among nearly 800 Midstate youngsters attending this year's event, displaying a total of 375 inventions. (MTSU photo by J. Intintoli)

Mt. Juliet Elementary fourth-graders Ryan, left, and Colin Walker show off “The Rain Pack,” their invention to “Make Life Easier” by converting from a backpack into a rain jacket, at MTSU’s 27th annual Invention Convention, held Feb. 21 in the university’s Student Union ballroom. The brothers and their fellow inventor, Hayden Sheehy, who isn’t pictured, were among nearly 800 Midstate youngsters attending this year’s event, displaying a total of 375 inventions. (MTSU photo by J. Intintoli)

MTSU students Megan Cantrell, left, and Alyson Sledge talk to “Hairbrush Collector” inventors Piper Christman, center, Layla Tate, and Bailey Marshall from Winfree Bryant Middle School in Lebanon, Tenn., Feb. 21 during MTSU’s 27th annual Invention Convention. The girls’ invention won a ribbon as a “Judges’ Favorite” in the Sixth Grade “Make Life Easier” category. (MTSU photo by J. Intintoli)

MTSU students Megan Cantrell, left, and Alyson Sledge talk to “Hairbrush Collector” inventors Piper Christman, center, Layla Tate and Bailey Marshall from Winfree Bryant Middle School in Lebanon, Tenn., Feb. 21 during MTSU’s 27th annual Invention Convention. The girls’ invention won a ribbon as a “Judges’ Favorite” in the Sixth Grade “Make Life Easier” category. (MTSU photo by J. Intintoli)

MTSU elementary education professor Tracey Huddleston announces the winners of the 27th annual Invention Convention, held Feb. 21 in the university's Student Union Ballroom. Nearly 800 Midstate youngsters attended this year's event, displaying a total of 375 inventions. Huddleston established the creative opportunity for area fourth-, fifth- and sixth-graders in tribute to her mother, True Radcliff, a longtime fifth-grade teacher who conducted "Invention Convention"-type events at her own school. (MTSU photo by J. Intintoli)

MTSU elementary education professor Tracey Huddleston announces the winners of the 27th annual Invention Convention, held Feb. 21 in the university’s Student Union ballroom. Nearly 800 Midstate youngsters attended this year’s event, displaying a total of 375 inventions. Huddleston established the creative opportunity for area fourth-, fifth- and sixth-graders in tribute to her mother, True Radcliff, a longtime fifth-grade teacher who conducted “Invention Convention”-type events at her own school. (MTSU photo by J. Intintoli)

Murfreesboro sixth-graders Brianna Guthrie, left, and Abby Gibbs of Northfield Elementary School have the solution to "Make Life Easier" after Middle Tennessee's weeks of soggy weather: "The Rain Stopper," their creation for MTSU's 27th annual Invention Convention, held Feb. 21 in the university's Student Union Ballroom. The duo was among nearly 800 Midstate youngsters attending this year's event, displaying a total of 375 inventions. (MTSU photo by J. Intintoli)

Murfreesboro sixth-graders Brianna Guthrie, left, and Abby Gibbs of Northfield Elementary School have the solution to “Make Life Easier” after Middle Tennessee’s weeks of soggy weather: “The Rain Stopper,” their creation for MTSU’s 27th annual Invention Convention, held Feb. 21 in the university’s Student Union ballroom. The duo was among nearly 800 Midstate youngsters attending this year’s event, displaying a total of 375 inventions. (MTSU photo by J. Intintoli)


COMMENTS ARE OFF THIS POST

INSTAGRAM
WE ARE TRUE BLUE