It’s that time of year again: time to share the winners of this year’s Spark!Lab Dr. InBae and Mrs. Kyung Yoo Joon Invent It Challenge! Our 10th annual challenge may be our most exciting yet. This year’s prompt? To create a game-changing invention that makes sports more safe, fun, fair, and accessible to everyone– while following a seven-step invention process! These young inventors have gone above and beyond to share their innovative creations.
Cricket and Smithsonian staff alike have spent the last two weeks carefully reviewing and evaluating dozens of submissions in what’s always one of the most exciting parts of the year. This year, we received 145 entries created by over 300 kids. Submissions came from kids of all ages, from grades K-12, and seven different countries. This year’s winning entries include everything from VR-sporting gear to a glowing helmet for night-skiing to a golf club for wheelchair users and much, much more!
Without further ado, here are our 8 winners of the Invent It Challenge! Remember to visit our Challenge website to vote for your favorites for the Cricket Choice Award! (Voting is open until May 16.)
Glo Zone (Ages 5-7 Individual Winner)
6-year old Kabir from California came up with this cool invention after a not-so-fun experience. He was hit by 4 adults on a ski trip! Ouch! To make skiing and snowboarding safe for nighttime (especially for smaller kids), he created Glo Zone, a fun glowing rainbow umbrella that attaches to skiiers’ helmets. Judges were impressed by how he carefully tested his invention and took feedback from other kids his age who might be likely to use it. Kabir says, “Glo Zone is designed to make snow sports safer at night. Glo Zone not only lights up the users but it also creates a ‘glow zone’ around it. Glo Zone prevents other skiiers and snowboarders from bumping into kids.” We’re thrilled to hear he also plans to make these in adult sizes!
Hydration Balls (Ages 5-7 Team Winner)
6-year-old twins Harold and Serena came up with an innovative way to keep athletes from getting dehydrated on hot days. Both from Georgia, they’re no stranger to hot weather. After interviewing a coach who shared a story about an athlete fainting due to dehydration, they decided to create heart-shaped hydration drops. Serena says, “It’s shaped like a heart and there’s water in it. But I want to add something else into the water, too, so it has more Calcium, and I want to add some Vitamin D, too, in that thing, and I also I want to make it taste good!” By all measures, they achieved their goals– though they upgraded the ‘water’ to a nutrient-enriched chocolate milk! Harold says, “It’s chocolate milk! Who does not like chocolate milk?” We concur!
The Octo-Walker (Ages 8-10 Individual Winner)
Even the greatest basketball players get older someday. 9-year-old Emily X. from New York has invented a special walker designed to keep people with arthritis from giving up on playing basketball. The Octo-Walker consists of a fabric strap that can be clasped around the athlete, connected to 8 extendable canes (designed to match the wearer’s height), each with a ‘hoof’ at the bottom to help it grip the ground. like a sneaker sole. This carefully-researched invention will help stabilize older athletes in a hands-free way so that they can play basketball. Emily says, “No need to suffer anymore, because our invention will surprise you, it will miraculously dazzle you, and it, for the most part, can help you be better on the court!”
Ace Attachment (Ages 8-10 Team Winner)
The winning 8-10 team invention, created by Levi and Albert (both 10 years old and from New York) also deals with helping people with disabilities enjoy sports. The Ace Attachment makes it easier for wheelchair users to play golf. It includes a clip to attach a putter and a bar to swing the putter from a seated position. Unlike similar inventions, the Ace Attachment is portable, easily adjustable, and doesn’t require a motor. It’s also very easy for wheelchair users to install! Levi and Albert created a cool working prototype and several detailed sketches as part of their planning process. Albert says, “Our bar can attach to a wheelchair. Then you can play golf easily with no doubt!”
ProTech Helmet (Ages 11-13 Individual Winner)
This is our second winning entry inspired by an injury! 12-year-old Pooja from New Jersey has created a light, safe helmet designed for playing Ultimate Frisbee! She came up with her idea after getting hit right under the eye at a frisbee tournament and realizing she could have been blinded if it was any higher. Wearing helmets during Ultimate Frisbee can be uncomfortable because the sport involves a lot of running, bending, and crouching. The ProTech Helmet is a carbon fiber helmet with a lining made of a new technology called Spin, a silicone injected into foam pads instead of a separate plastic liner. Pooja tested her invention by dropping eggs inside her prototype helmet! She says, “The egg did not break, and that will represent how children will stay safe and they won’t get concussions or other head trauma.”
The HIVE (Ages 11-13 Team Winner)
There are a few familiar faces on this winning team of from Missouri! Inventors Brayden and Eli were part of the team that created last year’s winning entry in this category, the Green Grocery Bus! Joined by teammates Charlotte, Logan, and Cailey, they have created The HIVE (Healthy, Interactive Virtual Experience), a VR sports portal that’s accessible for people of all abilities. They say, “We have settings, equipment, and avatars for all players, regardless of physical abilities.” The team consulted 4 experts including Bill Hannigan, a member of the US Paralympics bobsled team and multi-sport athlete who uses a wheelchair. He says, “I think something like this, being so inclusive, would make them feel more a part of [something]…, If they could do something at home to keep them going, to keep their minds fresh, to feel apart of something, that would be great.”
Skate Shoes "DOOD" (Ages 14+ Individual Winner)
It’s the worst when you ruin your favorite pair of shoes! Fortunately, 17-year-old Rommel from Nuevo León, Mexico has come up with affordable, environmentally-friendly new skate shoes. These shoes have exchangeable parts that allow pieces of the shoes to be swapped out when broken or damaged instead of getting rid of the whole pair. Skaters can also exchange the soles to suit different types of tricks and moves. “I want them to fulfill their function… that they are easy to exchange in addition to being aesthetically beautiful,” Rommel says. He compares assembling his skate shoes to assembling a table from a store like IKEA. Every skater dude could use a pair of “DOOD” shoes!
Hermetic Electronic Helmet & Show 360 (Ages 14+ Team Winner)
How to make boxing, a famously aggressive sport, safer for athletes while still keeping it exciting? Rommina (age 17) and Lourdes (age 16), both from Nuevo León, Mexico, have found a solution. Rommina says, “Unlike other sports, the intention is to cause bodily harm to the opponent… these intentional repeated blows to the head can cause acute and chronic irreversible brain damage.” Boxing also suffers from a loss of spectators due to COVID-19. Rommina and Lourdes have created a special shock-absorbing electronic helmet with D30 smart foam and an impact sensor that sends data to referees. They also modified the ring to a circular shape that will allow spectators at home to view the match in an immersive, 360-degree, ultra high definition show with opportunities to slow down and speed up. Check out their high-quality video production!
Cast your vote!
Which of these fantastic inventions will you choose to win the Cricket Choice Award? While they are all outstanding, only one can win the popular vote! Cast your vote here by May 16! Be sure to check out the many awesome Honorable Mention entries while you’re there!