Cricket Media, in partnership with the Smithsonian’s Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation, is pleased to announce the winners of the 10th Annual Spark!Lab Dr. InBae and Mrs. Kyung Joo Yoon Invent It Challenge, which received more than 140 entries from across four continents.
This year’s Challenge invited students ages 5–21 to become “game-changing” inventors who transform how we play and engage with sports. Young inventors were challenged to think creatively about what inventions might make sports more fun, fair, exciting, safe, and accessible to people of all abilities.
Student submissions are required to follow a seven-step invention process for their entries, including identifying a problem, conducting research, sketching their ideas, building a prototype, testing the product, refining it, and marketing it to potential users. A former NFL player and current CEO of Windpact, Shawn Springs, provided insight and guidance to students during the 2021 Challenge as they worked on their entries. Shawn’s company develops innovative technologies to reduce potential harm from impacts. The eight winners—four individuals and four teams—and 21 honorable mentions were evaluated by a panel of judges from the Smithsonian and Cricket Media.
After several adults collided with him on the ski slopes, 6-year-old Kabir invented “Glo Zone,” a glowing rainbow umbrella that attaches to skiers’ helmets. Six-year-old twins, Harold and Serena, created an innovative solution to prevent athletes from becoming dehydrated on hot days. Their heart-shaped hydration drops contain nutrient-enriched chocolate milk inside an edible case.
“My invention helps stabilize elders and keeps them from falling down easily. This can help elders play sports better so they are not so vulnerable,” says 9-year-old Emily, inventor of the hands-free “Octo-Walker.” 10-year-olds Albert and Levi’s “Ace Attachment” makes it easier for wheelchair users to play golf. Users can attach this portable and adjustable bar to their wheelchairs and turn it to swing a putter from a seated position.
Teammates Charlotte, Brayden, Logan, Eli, and Cailey have created The HIVE (Healthy, Interactive Virtual Experience), a Virtual Reality sports portal that’s accessible for athletes of all abilities. “DOOD” Skate Shoes, invented by 17-year-old Rommel, use interchangeable parts to make replacing damaged shoes easier and less costly and to prevent injuries. Addressing the issue of safety in boxing, 17-year-old Rommina and 17-year-old Lourdes have created the Hermetic Electronic Helmet & Show 360, a special shock-absorbing electronic helmet with D30 smart foam and networked impact sensors that send data to referees.
The winner of this year’s Cricket Choice Award, chosen by online votes, is the “ProTech Helmet,” created by 12-year-old Pooja. This lightweight helmet uses impact-resistant materials to keep Ultimate Frisbee players safe from injury. Pooja tested her invention by dropping eggs inside her prototype helmet! She says, “The egg did not break, and that will represent how children will stay safe, and they won’t get concussions or other head trauma.”
“These young inventors have taken the time to research and understand the complexities of sports accessibility and fairness and have devised brilliant inventions to assist and empower all athletes,” says Laura Woodside, Senior Vice President of Education Products at Cricket Media. “We are proud to showcase their inventions on our global platform. Their work is evidence of their desire to make sports more equitable and inclusive.”
“These winning inventors showed leaps of creativity in coming up with novel ideas and solutions,” says Sharon Klotz, Head of Invention Education for the Smithsonian’s Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation. “They also demonstrated that inventing is not just a single flash of inspiration. It’s a process that involves iterative prototyping, testing, and tweaking and requires underlying reserves of curiosity, resilience, and resourcefulness. These lifelong habits of mind are applicable in any context, and we hope all participants will continue to see themselves as inventive, now and always.”
Complete List of Individual Winners, by Age:
• Ages 5–7: Glo Zone– Kabir D. (New Jersey)
• Ages 8–10: The Octo-Walker – Emily X. (New York)
• Ages 11–13: ProTech Helmet– Pooja K. (New Jersey)
• Ages 14+: Skate Shoes “DOOD”– Rommel C. (Nuevo Leon, Mexico)
Complete List of Team Winners, by Age:
• Team Ages 5–7: Hydration Balls (Georgia)
• Team Ages 8–10: Ace Attachment (Missouri)
• Team Ages 11–13: The HIVE (Missouri)
• Team Ages 14+: Hermetic Electronic Helmet & Show 360 (Nuevo Leon, Mexico)
Videos and other details of the top winning inventions and honorable mentions are available here. Age-specific prizes available to the winners include a hands-on behind-the-scenes tour of Smithsonian museums in Washington D.C. that includes consultation with representatives from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, among many other prizes.
ABOUT THE YOON FAMILY
The Spark!Lab Dr. InBae and Mrs. Kyung Joo Yoon Invent It Challenge is a collaboration between the Smithsonian’s Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation and Cricket Media. The challenge is named in honor of Dr. InBae Yoon, a Korean American inventor who passionately believed that everyone is inventive. His lifelong commitment to drawing, tinkering, and prototyping his ideas resulted in over 200 U.S. patents. The Spark!Lab Dr. InBae Yoon Invent It Challenge celebrates his legacy as an inventor and educator and aims to inspire the next generation of innovators.
ABOUT CRICKET MEDIA
Cricket Media, Inc. is a global education company providing award-winning content and safe and secure collaborative learning networks. Cricket Media serves millions of teachers, students and parents in over 200 countries and territories to fulfill its mission to engage, enlighten and educate children everywhere. Learn more at www.CricketMedia.com.
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 engages, educates, and empowers the public to participate in technological, economic, and social change. Through historical research, educational initiatives, , exhibitions, and public programming the Centers advances new perspectives on invention and innovation and fosters interactions between the public and inventors. For more information, please visit http://invention.si.edu/try/sparklab.