Thomas Edison Holds a Pitch Contest

Middle school student teams recently showed their ability to be both innovative and articulate as they pitched new product ideas to a panel of judges and competed for top honors in the Edison Innovation Foundation’s new Thomas Edison Pitch Contest. All this happened on a Saturday morning at the Thomas Edison National Historical Park [TENHP] in West Orange, NJ.

The winners and their teacher mentor pose near the historic desk of famed inventor Thomas Edison on display at TENHP.

The winners and their teacher mentor pose near the historic desk of famed inventor Thomas Edison on display at TENHP.

Competing teams from Heritage Middle School, Grover Cleveland Middle School, and Glen Rock Middle School put it all on the line to extoll the virtues of their ideas; and then answer tough questions about the viability of their designs. Here is how it all boiled down:

  • First Place- $1,000 to Heritage for the “Ultimate Air Quality Sensor”
  • Second Place- $500 to Glen Rock for the “Charging Solution”
  • Third Place- $250 to Grover Cleveland for the “Motorized Brush Cleaner”

With the award money, the teams can now develop prototypes of their product ideas, and will report on their success by the end of the school year in a written report back to the Foundation. The contest exemplifies how in the STEM-rich business world new ideas are first conceived, funding is obtained for their development [the pitch] and how actual prototypes are built and evaluated.

The three finalist teams and their teacher mentors enjoying a group photo at the Thomas Edison National Historical Park where the contest finals were held.

The three finalist teams and their teacher mentors enjoying a group photo at the Thomas Edison National Historical Park where the contest finals were held.

From the very desk in the photo above, Thomas Edison launched his famous invention factory concept which later became the foundation for R&D labs worldwide and the STEM process our children study in school today. It was not unusual for Edison to manage 30-40 new product development teams all the time.

Based on the success of this pitch contest, the Foundation plans to significantly increase the size of this contest in the near future.

Thomas Edison was there in spirit to listen to what these young entrepreneurs had to propose. That you can be sure of! He would have hired these talented future leaders.

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

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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