Posts belonging to Category STEM

Edison Invention Challenge – 2014 Awards

Thirty-six teams of students came to compete in the fourth annual Thomas Edison Invention Challenge. Students ranging from 5th grade to high school, participated in this popular invention competition. Last year twenty-seven teams were involved.

Held on the campus of New Jersey Institute of Technology [NJIT] on Saturday, March 29th, 2014, this energy technology themed competition capped 4 months of work by the student teams. Teams from all over northern and central New Jersey and Staten Island got up bright and early to bring their inventions and excitement to NJIT. Judges 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. In addition to the three top-ranking awards highlighted below, each judge gave out an honorable mention award to a deserving team in a special category.

1st Place Team from Northern Highlands Regional High School -Invented a Solar Survival Kit

1st Place Team from Northern Highlands Regional High School – Invented a Solar Survival Kit

2nd Place Team from High Point Regional High School aka “The Green Team” - Invented the Eye in the Sky, a fuel cell/battery powered quad-copter for surveillance

2nd Place Team from High Point Regional High School aka “The Green Team” – Invented the Eye in the Sky, a fuel cell/battery powered quad-copter for surveillance

3rd Place Team from Waldwick High School aka “Team Warriors” - Invented a Solar Cooler

3rd Place Team from Waldwick High School aka “Team Warriors” – Invented a Solar Cooler

Great work student teams! Thomas Edison would be proud. To see more pictures from this event, visit and ‘like’ our Facebook page.

Thomas Edison on Time Magazine“Hell, there are no rules here – we’re trying to accomplish something.”

Time ® is a registered trademark of Time Inc.


Setting the Tone for an Innovative School Year

Setting the Tone for an Innovative School YearMany teachers, including myself take the summertime to relax, recharge and reflect on what is working in their classrooms, and what needs to be modified and updated. A laundry list of modifications and good intentions continues to develop as the first days of school draw near. Too often, the ambitious list of improvements gives way to the reality of preparing a classroom, in-service days, seating charts, attendance and grading policies.

Teachers must make it clear to our students that in order to become truly innovative in the classroom, they will need to take risks and be prepared to fail. As teachers, we too often place such emphasis on getting the correct answer the first time, that we fail to remember that it was Thomas Edison who said, “I have not failed, I have just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” Students need our support and guidance, while they experience failure along the road to success. Students are conditioned from an early age to play it safe, and go for the sure thing that will satisfy the problem the teacher has presented. What we do not do often enough, is leave problems open ended and encourage the ideation and creativity that can only exist when the risk of punitive failure is removed.

A method I use in my technology education classroom is allowing students to document their work thoroughly throughout the process. They document research, design idea, the build process, and the results of the testing of their product. Following this, they evaluate what they would change, and why. This authentic learning allows students not only the ability to take a risk, but justify their reasoning, and evaluate and synthesize decisions made. Overall, this is a very powerful learning experience.

Kenny ZushmaSo keep it innovative, but keep it structured. Allow for freedom of design, but insist on justification and reflection. Allow your students the opportunity to experiment, invent, and create in an environment that truly encourages innovation.

Kenny Zushma
Teacher of Technology Education
Heritage Middle School
Livingston, NJ 07039

Thomas Edison on Time Magazine

Thomas Edison said … “The man who doesn’t make up his mind to cultivate the habit of thinking misses the greatest pleasure in life.

Time ® is a registered trademark of Time Inc.


Guest Blog: UV LED for Revolutionizing Water Purification

Thomas Edison’s most iconic invention was the incandescent bulb, in use since the 1880s. Today, LEDs, are entering the world at an unprecedented pace. In fact, you are likely reading this article from an LED-lit screen either on a LCD monitor, smartphone or tablet.

Most of the current LEDs on the market emit visible light (blue, green, yellow, red) and white light. However, a more recent LED can emit ultraviolet, or UV light, that has the potential to revolutionize the water purification industry.

The use of UV light for water purification dates back to 1916 in the U.S. UV light is effective in disrupting DNA of micro-organisms, preventing them from functioning and reproducing. Today, UV light is widely utilized in municipal wastewater treatment, the beverage industry and in family-size water treatment applications. Compared to traditional chemical purification, UV purification is a fast and purely physical process, which does not leave any taint, chemical or residues in the treated water.

However, nearly all the sources of UV light derive from mercury lamps- a vapor gas discharge lamp. Such lamps are fragile, bulky and toxic, not to mention the high working voltage that could be hazardous to users. On the other hand, UV LED lights are durable, operate at low-voltage, and do not contain toxic materials. The most notable difference between the UV LED and UV mercury lamp is their size. The size of a UV LED chip is hundreds of times smaller than a typical UV mercury lamp, opening up new avenues for portable water purification applications.

US troops and outdoor enthusiasts still heavily rely on chemical tablets to purify individual drinking water. It takes the tablets several hours to purify a gallon of water and the tablets leave a terrible taste in the water. Nausea, diarrhea and headache have also been reported from those who are sensitive to the residual chemicals. With reliable and compact UV LEDs, Ipod-size water purifiers can be designed to replace the chemical tablets and avoid any bad taste and side effects. Meanwhile the UV LED will work much faster, and can purify gallons of water in just several minutes. Travelers will benefit from UV LEDs too, as they can go farther off-road with reliable water purification.

The major obstacle for UV LED entry into the market is lower efficiency compared to the UV mercury lamp. Fortunately, the situation could change rapidly, as many leading universities and research institutions begin to heavily invest in UV LED research. Low-power UV LED is already for sale today, mainly used for scientific research. In the near future, high-power or practical UV LED will be offered, thus allowing life-saving water purification technologies to become more affordable and ubiquitous.

Xiaohang ‘X’ Li
Graduate Student
Georgia Institute of Technology

Editor’s Deep Dive


Thomas Edison on Time Magazine“I find out what the world needs. Then I go ahead and try to invent it.”

Time ® is a registered trademark of Time Inc.