Thomas Edison Pitch Contest 2019 Winners Announced

On May 15th, the Edison Innovation Foundation and PSEG Foundation gave awards to student team finalists from across the country in their annual Thomas Edison Pitch Contest. It is the 9th year of hosting this competition, which took place at the legendary Thomas Edison National Historical Park in West Orange, NJ.

The finalist teams were chosen from 45 teams in 13 states across the country who entered our contest this year. The competition sparked more bright ideas than ever, with a record of 5 different states in the finals including New Jersey, Pennsylvania, New York, Texas, and Oklahoma! Students from elementary school also competed for the first time.

The finalists impressed the professional judge panel of entrepreneurs, engineers, and Thomas Edison experts with their entrepreneurial pitches to win a 3D Printer and more for their schools.

Here is a summary of the awards in the elementary, middle, and high school categories:

Elementary

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1st Place

Team IV Comfort, Shawnee Elementary School, Easton, PA

This team created an IV bag to make children’s stays in the hospital more enjoyable and efficient. This IV Bag was built into a stuffed animal backpack for optimal portability and cuteness! In their words, the invention is meant for children to feel more comfortable in the hospital than the traditional IV Stand provides!

DSC07128.jpg2nd Place

Team Toto, RN Wilentz School, Perth Amboy, NJ

This team created an alternative energy invention called The Windergy! This turbine charger was could be placed in the grill of your car in order to charge your phone with renewable energy instead of the car’s battery. Not only would this be a sustainable energy source but it also saved damage to your car’s battery and phone!

DSC07126.jpg3rd Place

Team Sky’s the True Limit, Paxinosa Elementary School, Easton, PA

This was a team on a mission to save lives, following the major storms in the Midwest this year affecting thousands of people. This automatic raft would run on wind and solar energy, be sturdy enough to stay afloat in all weather conditions, and pick up people during a big flood until help can arrive!

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Middle School

IMG_65171st Place

Team Space Daisies, The Hockaday School, Dallas, TX

The Space Daisies created an updated tools for astronauts called The Buzz Gloves. Although a version of this device is being used by NASA, this team took it a step farther creating a more cost-effective and broader interpretation for their own invention. When the astronaut touches something hard enough, the gloves will make a buzz sound and light up to prevent injury and, of course, their nails from breaking!

IMG_5617.jpg2nd Place

Team Waste Warriors,  Owasso 6th Grade Center, Owasso, OK [via Skype]

This team presented their loop filtration system over Skype! They demonstrated how their invention would take used water from a house and filter it to be used again the same house – something unheard of! Using a steam generator, this invention would make the lives of homeowners with wells easier as well as recycle energy and water.

IMG_6500.jpg3rd Place

Team Orkai, Homewise Homeschooling, Olean, NY

This team created The Spinno, an enjoyable way to do accomplish your arthritis exercises! After doing a lot of trials with their own grandparents, the team developed a device to complete 3 types of exercises (squeezing, pulling, and strength) in an aesthetically pleasing and more interactive way that the traditional way to do the exercises provided by a physical therapist.

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High School

IMG_6529.jpg1st Place

Team CDP, Applied Technology High School, Paramus, NJ

Description:

This team’s invention, The Puer Seat, came in response to increasing child deaths in cars. Their car seat had 3 sensors included for an affordable price to prevent improper fastening, overheating, and carbon monoxide poisoning. Parents would be notified of any dangers their child may be in by light, sound, and phone notifications before any fatalities could happen!

IMG_65382nd Place

Team C equal Square Root E over M, John P. Stevens High School, Edison, NJ

The Vacation Station created by this team is an outdoors charging system powered completely by solar and wind energy. Rather than using a portable battery, the detachable solar panels and windmill umbrella would be an fail-safe system that would provide you with a more sustainable way to charge your phone on the beach or in the park!

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3rd Place

Team I-AAN, George Bush High School, Dallas, Texas [via Skype]

The Soteria bracelet was a multi-faceted alert system that this team created to prevent death of children and adults alike. The team presented this digital bracelet inspired by popular models over Skype. A removable pin on the side of the bracelet would discretely alert emergency contacts that you are in danger while the temperature and heart rate sensors would automatically signal a threat to your health.

Great job young inventors. I heard each of you loud and clear, and boy was I impressed. You truly heard Edison’s call of “There’s a better way to do it – find it!” You made my day!!

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Thomas N. McCarter, founder and President of PSE&G explains a tour of the new Kearny Generating Station in 1925 to Gov. of NJ, A. Harry Moore (left) and Thomas Edison (right)

Thomas Edison and PSE&G—a Perfect Team

The Light Bulb Icon and a Utility Giant Celebrate Invention

The winners will be celebrated on May 15, 2019!

It’s May and the level of excitement at the Edison Innovation Foundation is nearing its annual peak; because this is the month for the grand awards in our annual Thomas Edison Pitch Contest. In this our 9th straight year, we have reviewed numerous entries from all over the United States, and winnowed it down to 9 finalists, three each in the elementary, middle and high school divisions. Finalists will compete in a 2-3 minute team pitch to determine the final order of awards.

What makes this year doubly blessed is our new partnership with Public Service Electric & Gas [PSE&G] Foundation. PSE&G is New Jersey’s largest electric and gas utility, with an impeccable national reputation for customer service reliability; clean power generation and a pioneer in applying photovoltaic installations on utility poles, commercial properties and rehabilitated brownfield sites.

PSE&G has the creative spirit that ties right in with the theme of the pitch contest. They have long been a booster of STEM educational programs throughout their service territories, and we are proud to have them associated with this Thomas Edison program. Students will even get the chance to be judged by one of their principal Technical Engineers, Dawn Shilkoski!

Thomas N. McCarter, founder and President of PSE&G explains a tour of the new Kearny Generating Station in 1925 to Gov. of NJ, A. Harry Moore (left) and Thomas Edison (right)

This year’s awards ceremony will take place “under the big top” at the Thomas Edison National Historical Park, the site of the legendary inventor’s West Orange works where Edison combined invention and entrepreneurship to create the modern world of R&D labs, team-based problem solving, and tied it to our ever expanding concept of technology driven economic progress.

Edison is the great grandfather of modern STEM / STEAM thinking, the educational paradigm taught in schools all over the world. Our finalists will have mimicked the Edison style of thinking throughout their journey from raw idea to final design.

Edison on solar energy – “I’d put my money on the sun and solar energy. What a source of power! I hope we don’t have to wait until oil and coal run out before we tackle that. I wish I had more years left.”

Left: Intel-Edison module now available world-wide for developers. Right: The “Tommy” award given by the Edison Innovation Foundation.
Left: Intel-Edison module now available world-wide for developers. Right: The “Tommy” award given by the Edison Innovation Foundation.
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9 Things you Didn’t Know About Thomas Edison

Thomas Edison is NJ’s State Inventor

–It’s Official by State Law–

The State of New Jersey now recognizes Thomas Edison as the State’s Inventor. Never underestimate the persuasive power of young ladies and their teacher. Sarah Marion and her 4th grade students Rory, Zoe, Dylan and Emma at Stony Brook Elementary School in Hopewell, researched the great inventor and wrote a letter to the NJ legislature about recognizing the world’s greatest inventor. Senator Shirley K. Turner sponsored the legislation which, after four years, has now become law. What a great experience for the students in how government works! Read the story below and enjoy some vintage Edison images

 Thomas Edison in his lab with the Edison Effect light bulb, which later became the basis for all electronics!

On May 2, 2019, Thomas Alva Edison was officially designated State Inventor!

How did the kids present the idea of the bill to make Thomas Edison the “State Inventor” to you? What about that presentation convinced you to take action?

During our Social Studies unit on New Jersey Government, my students had learned all about the state symbols of New Jersey and were assigned a project to research and come up with a new state symbol. They had to have solid reasoning as to why this should be a symbol and present it to the class with the goal of persuading them that it should become a symbol. The girls put together a great presentation with facts to support why Thomas Edison should become our State Inventor. I saw tremendous possibility within this idea and after speaking with the girls, we did a bit more research and wrote a letter to Senator Turner expressing our thoughts. She quickly wrote back and told us that she was sponsoring our bill had requested that a bill be drafted to name Thomas Edison as New Jersey’s State Inventor! We were over the moon excited.

Now that the Committee & Senate have voted for the bill, what do you think the effects of making Edison the “NJ State Inventor” will be?

I think that a lot more attention will be on all of Thomas Edison’s accomplishments; not only for New Jersey, but also for the world. He was such an incredible inventor who drastically changed the lives of every single person living today. I also hope that when the public hears that a group of 4th graders (now 8th graders) was behind this becoming law, that everyone will realize the importance of their voice. Stand up for what you believe in and don’t let anybody prevent you from achieving something great!

Thomas Edison’s legendary West Orange Labs employing 10,000 people and shipping products all over the world—the place were R&D labs showed their true value to corporations.

What was your favorite part about the process of creating this bill?

My favorite part about creating this bill has been working side by side with the girls. They have never given up hope that we can make this happen, even after years went by. This process has truly proven that anything is possible and that every single person’s voice matters, no matter their age. My hope is that other students in Hopewell Valley, and hopefully the entire state will soon realize what can be accomplished when you don’t give up! We have met so many interesting people and government officials along the way that have motivated us and helped us to persevere. Aside from Senator Turner, John Keegan has been one of our biggest supporters since day one. When we were invited to Thomas Edison’s lab and awarded “The Tommy”, we felt like superstars! Who knew that it would take more than three years after that event to get this bill passed through both houses.

What were the major challenges you faced when pitching this bill?

The biggest challenge we faced was overcoming disappointment. After testifying at committee meetings we were always filled with so much hope that this would be the year that it would pass! We became filled with disappointment when sessions would end and we had to start all over again. Luckily, we didn’t let it keep us down for long! We got right back to writing letters and sending emails to those who could help us get this on voting agendas again.

Edison’s invention factory where prototypes were rapidly made for testing and evaluation-which is what we call makers labs today! Edison is the great grand-daddy of STEM

What can other students & teachers learn from this achievement?

Throughout this entire process, my hope has always been that students will realize how important their opinions are and also realize how essential it is to fulfill their civic duty by standing up for what they believe in. As educators, instilling the belief in students that they can accomplish anything at a young age will boost their confidence and help set them on a path for success. I believe in teaching my students the value of being a good person and this achievement can help them see the good that others are doing and make them want to work toward their goals as well.

Where are the students that worked with you to create this bill now?

Rory, Emma, Zoe, and Dylan are now in 8th grade! It is hard to believe that they will be entering high school next year. They are still excellent students and involved in many different activities. Aside from being great students, each one has a heart of gold and I feel so honored to have been a part of their educational journey and lives.

What is your favorite Thomas Edison invention and why?

My favorite Thomas Edison invention would have to be the incandescent light bulb. Every year we take our 4th graders on a field trip to the State House and they learn that Edison’s Electric Light Company installed the brass chandelier with 66 light bulbs that is hanging in the Assembly Chamber. All of my students have background knowledge of our current bill, so seeing their faces “light” up when they see something that his company actually installed is really awesome.

Do you have anything else to add, that you want people to know?

Never, ever, ever give up!  I repeat this phrase to all of my students endlessly throughout each school year. I want them to remember it as they move on from 4th grade and apply it to their everyday lives. Rory, Emma, Zoe, and Dylan demonstrated this day in and day out throughout this entire process. Throughout my teaching career, I have never seen a group of students work so hard and persevere for so long in something that they believe in. I encourage every single child and adult to stand up for what they believe in and chase their dreams. You are never too young or too old to achieve something great!

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Thomas Edison and The Pencil

Thomas Edison and the Pencil

The pencil is one of the oldest inventions that is still used today. School kids use them by the millions. Clerks have stored a pencil behind their ear for decades. A librarian would not be caught dead without the handy pencil – and either would Thomas Edison!

The pencil hasn’t changed much since Edison was using it. Once thing that has changed, though, is the lead in our modern day wooden cylinder. It is not lead at all, but a mixture of graphite and clay, in varying proportions to create different types of pencil marks or grades, from soft to hard. For example, the No. 2 pencil is a required for standardardized testing writing so that the grading machines will register it.

Edison writing in his notebook, using one of his special 3 and ½ inch custom pencils.

Many of Edison’s classic notebook entries and his sketches were done in pencil, from which his talented craftsmen were able to fabricate prototype models for testing; and ultimately Edison’s personal approval. One can easily imagine a pencil in Tom’s pocket at the ready to jot down ideas before they were lost. Tom ordered his own special pencils in large quantities from the Eagle Pencil Company [later renamed the Berol Company in 1969]. His pencils were extra soft, rated as a 5B grade, and designed to fit sideways in his vest pocket…about 3 & 1/2 inches long.

“The Pencil” by noted engineer/historian Henry Petroski, is a definitive tome on the history of the pencil-excellent reading for the aficionado. Petroski also mentions Edison’s use of specially made pencils; which of note are still in the artifact archives at the Thomas Edison National Historical Park in West Orange, NJ. Many great writers also preferred the use of pencils to write their story drafts–greats such at John Steinbeck, Ernest Hemingway, Lewis Carol, Virginia Wolf and Carl Sandburg.

Some Deep Dive Pencil Facts

  • An average tree can make 2500 pencils.
  • Pencils can write underwater and also be used in the zero gravity of space.
  • The word ‘pencil’ comes from the Old French ‘pincel’ meaning small paintbrush.
  • Though the exact date is not known for certain, the year 1565 marks the first record of a pencil consisting of a piece of graphite inserted into a wood shaft, making the first ancestor of today’s pencil.
  • In 1662, the first mass-produced pencils were created in Nuremberg, Germany.
  • In March 1858, the first design was issued for a pencil with an eraser on the end.
  • In 1861, Eberhard Faber built the first American mass-production pencil factory in New York City.

Thomas Edison said, “Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.”

Left: Intel-Edison module now available world-wide for developers. Right: The “Tommy” award given by the Edison Innovation Foundation.
Left: Intel-Edison module now available world-wide for developers. Right: The “Tommy” award given by the Edison Innovation Foundation.
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