Twenty-seven teams of excited students ranging from 6th grade to high school competed in the third annual Thomas Edison Invention Challenge. Held on the campus of New Jersey Institute of Technology [NJIT] on Saturday, May 11th, this alternate energy technology themed competition capped 6 months of work by the student teams. Teams from all over northern and central New Jersey got up bright and early to bring their inventions to NJIT. Groups of judges fanned out and examined each team entry and interviewed them to learn the specifics of their creations. Here below are photos and explanations of the winning entries and teams.
Invented solar/USB sunglasses
New Providence HS
Invented an emergency shelter for disaster relief
Invented a source of biofuels derived from algae farms
Two Honorable Mention awards were also made.
Honorable mention #1
High Point RHS
Invented a turbine system that would mount to the grill of a truck and generate energy to be used to warm the block of the engine in the winter
Honorable mention #2
Heritage Middle School
Invented a solar powered food dryer
Great work student teams! Thomas Edison would be proud.
To see more pictures from this event, visit and ‘like’ our Facebook page. Stay tuned for an expanded invention challenge next year.
“Hell, there are no rules here – we’re trying to accomplish something.”
Time ® is a registered trademark of Time Inc.
As we approach the birthday of Thomas Edison, February 11th, our thoughts turn toward the many teachers we have interacted with over the years, those who bring the Edison message and spirit to their students. Teachers are always communicating with us, asking questions, visiting the legendary West Orange labs, prowling our websites, encouraging student teams to take part in our annual Thomas Edison Invention Challenge, and developing lesson plans around the technological accomplishments of the world’s greatest inventor.
These teachers understand how to combine content and process in the curriculum, who have a magnificent comprehension of the importance of empowering their students to invent and dream of new things, just like the great inventor. In these heady days of STEM-style teaching in the classroom, and its importance to competing in a global economy, we celebrate the integration of science, technology, engineering and math. One cannot help but recognize that Thomas Edison, through his invention factory concept and the project management of perhaps 30-40 teams of inventors and craftspeople every day, pioneered the very taproots of STEM over 125 years ago.
Edison realized the value of education and often spoke out about the need to get the young ones to think and engage their creativity. One of the first uses he thought his invention of motion pictures would fulfill was for education in the classroom. Wow … sounds like a precursor to our online learning via the Internet! Here is something we always tell teachers about – Edison’s business philosophy:
- Think out of the box
- Be entrepreneurial-take risks
- Fail your way to success
- Success demands that you improve your products
We would like to recognize the special accomplishments of these Edison cheerleaders, those teachers who personify the Edison spirit and give their students an invaluable lifetime lesson. Take a moment and drop us a note about a teacher you know or work with who gives their students this kind of inspiration. You can send this to firstname.lastname@example.org. Maybe a simple email about this teacher and why you think they deserve to be recognized. We will do the rest.
Here are the cash prizes for the classroom:
- First Place – $500
- Second Place – $250
- Third Place – $150
John P. Keegan
President and CEO
Edison Innovation Foundation
If Thomas Edison were alive he would have been clapping and happily chatting with the contestants at the 2nd annual Thomas Edison Invention Challenge, held on April 22nd at the New Jersey Institute of Technology. Sponsored by the Edison Innovation Foundation, and supported by local organizations, this event brings student teams out to compete with inventions designed to address the application of solar and alternate energy technologies. Excited, and a bit nervous, students from middle to high school happily explained their inventions and ideas for a cleaner world. A battery of judges from the engineering and scientific community visited each display to chat with student teams and evaluate their concepts.
Taking top honors this year was High Point Regional High School with a car exhaust charger design. Using a wind turbine as inspiration, students designed a working model of a miniature wind turbine located in a car exhaust system to spin a rotary generator to make electricity for use on-board a vehicle, or to charge batteries in a hybrid vehicle. Nicely designed and displayed, this high school student team effort showed the complete engineering process. An informative tri-fold newsletter accompanied the interesting display.
Car Exhaust Charger Team
Second place also went to High Point Regional with a fascinating way to add alternate energy applications to the Lincoln Tunnel [which connects NJ and NYC]. A student team used solar panels and LED lights to provide an alternative to the energy intensive lighting now used in the tunnel.
Alternate Energy Applications for Lincoln Tunnel
Taking third place were three students from Heritage Middle School for their design of a methane powered portable toilet that captured the gases given off from the toilet’s fecal waste to generate electricity for low level lighting inside the structure.
Methane Powered Toilet Team
The Best Invention Notebook award went to a team from The Marine Academy of Science and Technology that carefully documented their design of a hand-held, solar-powered fan. Keeping accurate invention notebooks and demonstrating good communication skills is an often forgotten aspect of inventing. Clearly this team did a great job, and kudos to their teacher-mentor for emphasizing such important skills!
Best Invention Notebook Team
An honorable mention award was given to New Providence High School for a team that designed and modeled a pest guard energized from alternate energy sources. Such a system would keep animal pests like deer and smaller wild animals from foraging in family gardens and ornamentals.
Honorable Mention Team
Apparent from all the team entries, students had a profound sense of making their inventions appropriate to the market. Some of these entries were just a few steps away from being commercially possible. One enthusiastic fashion design team envisioned solar-powered clothing! All teams were encouraged to continue developing their ideas and never be afraid to try new things, as Mr. Edison certainly would have encouraged. Proclaiming all the participants “budding young Thomas Edison’s”, the event was closed…. to await a new round of exciting invention competition next year!
“I find out what the world needs. Then I go ahead and try to invent it.”
Time ® is a registered trademark of Time Inc.
Photographs by Wonderpug Graphics