Steve Jobs famously said, “Innovation is the ability to see change as an opportunity—not a threat.” Jobs transformed the world with his creations, but he isn’t alone. Students all over the country are finding opportunities where others might only see threats. Carolina’s Young Innovators Program is working with a handful of these inspiring young people. From a young man who invented take-home science kits for children in his neighborhood to a young woman who is working to make clean drinking water available to all, these innovators are making the world a better place. With the help of this program, these students share what they’ve learned and encourage other students to innovate as well. Read on to learn more about these amazing Young Innovators and how you can use their stories to inspire your students.
Carolina’s Young Innovators Program
With a 90-year track record of supporting world-class, hands-on science education, Carolina Biological Supply Company began the Young Innovators Program. Its goal is to recognize outstanding student innovators and inspire all students in grades K-12 to explore STEM. By providing educators with excellent resources and support, Carolina wants to help teachers identify, inspire, and support Young Innovators in their own classrooms.
Meet Carolina’s Young Innovators
Sharing a passion for creative problem-solving, Carolina’s Young Innovators are an impressive group of students. They range in age, gender, race, and interests, but they all believe in using their curiosity and brain-power to help others.
Shemar Coombs created a headphone case that keeps the wires from becoming tangled and unusable
Shemar’s innovation solves a problem that most young people are very familiar with. Tangled headphone cords. Inspired by a school project, Shemar created a headphone cord case that keeps wires untangled and ready for use. He used computer-aided software and a 3-D printer at his school’s maker space lab to create the prototype. He hopes that one day his innovation will be available in stores.
Shemar’s advice for future Young Innovators: “Always take the first step if you want to get something done.”
Joaquin Haces-Garcia created an innovative car-seat alarm
When he was 12, Joaquin saw a news report that upset him. A baby, accidentally left in a hot car, had died. Unwilling to let the tragic story pass by unnoticed, Joaquin sprang into action. He invented a magnetic sensor. This sensor rings when a driver turns off their car, alerting them that a child is still buckled in the back seat. Joaquin is proud of his invention but wants others to know that the innovation process, while rewarding, isn’t easy.
Joaquin’s advice for future Young Innovators: “Failure only makes you stronger,” he says. “Don’t be scared to fail.”
Augusta Uwamanzu-Nna created a cement that may prevent oil-rig catastrophes
17-year old Augusta initially set out to win her school’s science fair by choosing an unusual topic—cement. While researching, she learned that seven percent of the global carbon emissions came from cement production. Augusta wondered if something could be done to lessen concrete’s carbon footprint. During her investigation, she invented a cement mixture that was better able to withstand deep-sea conditions. Even though it wasn’t the innovation she had planned to create, Augusta has created a safer, more environmentally friendly cement that may prevent future oil rig disasters!
Augusta’s advice for future Young Innovators: “Take your passion and take what you like and do something really cool with it.”
Meet More Young Innovators
You can bring all of Carolina’s Young Innovators into your own classroom by downloading their Profile Cards. Available in both English and Spanish, the Profile Cards will allow your students to get to know each of these amazing young people and what motivated them to create their amazing innovations.
Possible Uses/Activities for the Profile Cards
- Carousel: Put one Carolina’s Young Innovators Profile Card and a large piece of poster paper on several desks. Group students at each Profile Card and give them a few minutes to review the card, getting to know the Young Innovator, their innovation, and their motivation for creating. Ask each group to write down what they found inspiring about the Young Innovator, their invention, or something they said on the poster paper. When the groups switch, repeat the process allowing new groups to add their own comments or respond to what previous groups have written.
- Jigsaw: In groups of four, provide each student in the group with a different Carolina’s Young Innovator Profile Card. Give students a set amount of time to read the card, getting to know the Young Innovator, their innovation, and their reasons for creating. When all students are ready, have them meet as a group. The students can take turns sharing out what they learned about their Young Innovator and then, as a group, can discuss what all of their Young Innovators had in common. As a class, discuss group responses and see if the commonly shared ideas can be applied to their own learning.
- Maker Space/Idea Lab: After either of the previous activities, encourage students to brainstorm innovations that matter to them. Ask students to identify problems in their own lives or in their communities and share them with the class. Schedule time throughout the school week where students can visit the Maker Space or Idea Lab. There they can begin brainstorming, planning, and creating innovations of their own to address problems they see in their world. Decorate this space in the classroom with the Carolina’s Young Innovators Profile Cards to encourage and motivate your innovators.
- Nominate a Student for Carolina’s Young Innovators Program: See a student who has been working hard to solve a complex problem? Carolina’s Young Innovators Program is looking for new Young Innovators! If you have a student in mind, recommend them for the program. Let Carolina’s Young Innovators Program know what this student has invented, what their aspirations are, and how they can help your student reach their full potential.
Looking for even more innovation inspiration?
Are there a few STEM-savvy students who you know could do amazing things if just given the right push? Click the button below to get Carolina’s Young Innovators poster for your classroom. Finally, just print and hang in your classroom to inspire your students on the path to innovation.