Winners Announced in Smithsonian-Cricket Media 4th Annual Spark!Lab Invent It Challenge

Light powered by dirt, a portable water filtration and purification pack, an autonomous nurse assistant and a device to detect distracted driving are a few of the young inventors’ innovative humanitarian solutions to real world problems.

WASHINGTON, DC – May 12, 2015 – ePals, a product of Cricket Media, and the Smithsonian’s Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation’s Spark!Lab are pleased to announce the top winners of the 2014-2015 Spark!Lab Invent It Challenge. The four individual and four group winners, as well as the 20 honorable mentions, were selected from hundreds of creative entries by students aged five to 18 across the world.

“In this fourth annual global Invent It! Challenge, we asked kids to channel their inner-inventors by thinking about a real world problem and coming up with a solution,” says Joan Auchter, Cricket Media Chief Learning Officer. “We were very impressed with the high quality of the student inventions and the awareness of current events, strong research and thought that went into developing them.”
Students were asked to follow a series of key steps in the invention process, including: think it; explore it; sketch it; create it; try it; tweak it; and sell it. Winners were selected by a panel of judges from the Smithsonian and Cricket Media. Top entries range from solving problems near to the heart like helping grandparents harvest their food from the garden to global solutions improving the quality of life and health of the planet.

Taking active steps toward reducing car collisions, Arjun, 15, combined the power of various types of sensors to create a device that detects distracted driving and provides auditory warnings. “Over 1,100 people are injured in car accidents every day due to distracted driving. My project was aimed at using sensors and chemical analysis to develop a holistic system capable of detecting and warning against distracted driving from inside the vehicle,” says the young inventor.

Arjun’s younger brother, Ankush, 13, captured renewable energy from dirt and stored it in a super-capacitor that is used to power light sources. “More than 1.14 billion of our world’s population don’t have access to grid electricity. My project relies on using a microbial fuel cell based on dirt to generate an inexpensive, renewable and portable replacement for kerosene as a fuel source,” says Ankush. Both brothers were awarded patent consultations.

Additional patent consultation winners include John and Alexander, both 15, who designed a Bachi pick for the shamisen, a three-stringed Japanese instrument. “I was really bothered by the way you had to hold the pick, especially with your pinkie finger, and was concerned for people who have arthritis,” says John. “We really want to focus on people with arthritis and the issues needed to customize our product to meet their needs.”

The 8- and 9- and 10-year-old team of Danny, Sam, Taegan, Morrison, Jack, Molly, John, Lyla, Olivia, Amelia, Thomas, Jack, Quinn, Logan, Alex, Mary, Jason, and Ryan created the Water Life Pack. This invention is a life-saving, earth-friendly and easy-to-use device designed to provide access to clean water for people around the globe. Almost 590,000 individuals cast their votes for the special ePals Choice Award. The majority of voters chose the Water Life Pack as the winner.
Full list of top winning inventions:

Top individual inventions by age:

The Easy 2 Pack Tent– Jordon, 7

Garden Tool: The Claw– Azure, 9

MudLite: Powered by Dirt– Ankush, 13

A Warning System Based on Sensor Technology and Chemical Analysis to Detect Distracted Driving– Arjun, 15

Top group inventions by age:

The Bug Vacuum – 6

The Water Life Pack by Kids– 8–9-10 (ePals Choice Award Winner)

Autonomous Nurse Assistant (A.N.A) – 9-12

Bachi3D – 14+

Camp Invention scholarship recipients include Jordan, 7, who designed the Easy 2 Pack Tent to provide shelter for the homeless, and Ellianna, Alina, and Ethan, a trio of 6-years-old who designed the Bug Vacuum to safely remove bugs from homes and return them to their habitats. Created by the National Inventors Hall of Fame, Camp Invention is the only nationally recognized summer program focused on creativity, innovation, real-world problem solving and the spirit of invention.
“The Smithsonian is delighted with this annual opportunity to encourage the creativity of students on a global scale and to guide them through the invention process,” says Tricia Edwards, Lemelson Center Head of Education. “We believe kids are natural-born innovators and can contribute meaningfully to solving real and serious problems in the world. Playing an active role in helping them do that is very satisfying and important to us.”
Winners have received prizes from sponsors, including Smithsonian book sets and LEGO products. Additional selected winners have also received patent application filings and Camp Invention scholarships. The inventions were evaluated by the law firm Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough, LLP. Former U.S. Secretary of Education Richard W. Riley and Neil Jones, senior partners with the firm, lauded the program: “We are pleased to participate pro bono in events that encourage young inventors and entrepreneurs,” Riley said. Adds Jones, “Nelson Mullins fully supports this program and I, personally, look forward to working with the three eligible winners.”
To learn more about the program and to see details on winning inventions, visit:

About Cricket Media

Cricket Media (TSXV: CKT) is an education media company that provides award-winning content on a safe and secure learning network for children, families and teachers across the world. Cricket Media’s popular media brands for toddlers to teens include Babybug, Ladybug, Cricket® and Cobblestone® and digital apps in English and Chinese. The Company’s innovative web-based K12 tools, for school and home, include the ePals virtual classroom for global collaboration as well as In2Books®, a Common Core eMentoring program that builds reading, writing and critical thinking skills. Cricket Media serves approximately one million classrooms and millions of teachers, students and parents in over 200 countries and territories through its platform and NeuPals, its joint venture with China’s leading IT services company Neusoft. Cricket Media also licenses its content and platform to top publishing and educational companies worldwide. For more information, please visit

About Spark!Lab

Spark!Lab is a hands-on invention activity space operated by the Jerome and Dorothy Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation ( at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History. The Lemelson Center’s mission is to document, interpret and disseminate information about invention and innovation, to encourage creativity in young people, and to foster an appreciation for the central role of invention and innovation in the history of the United States. Spark!Lab will reopen at the Museum July 1, 2015.


Joan Auchter

Chief Learning Officer

Cricket Media, Inc.