The process of invention: Learning grit and creativity

 Victoria and Amara, CYC-Fellowship students, pose in front of their presentation at the Chicago Student Invention Convention.

Victoria and Amara, CYC-Fellowship students, pose in front of their presentation at the Chicago Student Invention Convention.

When Victoria, 11, grows up, she wants to be either an engineer or an inventor. So, when CYC staff members asked her to be a part of the Chicago Student Invention Convention and invent a new product, she jumped at the opportunity.

“I liked the idea of inventing stuff,” she said.

Victoria, a student who attends CYC-Fellowship House in Bridgeport, was one of nine CYC students who participated in the Chicago Student Invention Convention on April 7. Several students were interviewed by ABC 7 to explain what they thought of the event. 

This was an exciting endeavor for the children at our Centers as they were not only challenged to explore innovative solutions to problems they identify, they were also required to create a prototype and plan to present to a panel of judges at the event. The students competed against hundreds of other Chicago children.

“Ultimately, the project required us to work hard, push through and give our best!” said Steven Willis, the CYC STEM Manager. “The reward was seeing our youth participants glowing with pride and excitement as they presented their inventions at the convention. Because just like us, they gave their best.”

The process was just as you might expect for any inventor: full of trial and error.

 Amara works on a prototype of the double-sided lotion invention.

Amara works on a prototype of the double-sided lotion invention.

Victoria worked with another Fellowship House student, Amara, to create their invention of a double-sided lotion bottle. But before they had their final version, the duo had a few frustrations to sort out.

Their inspiration came from seeing a CYC staff member struggle with a bottle of nearly-empty lotion.

“We found out people have a hard time getting their lotion out of the bottle,” said Amara, 9.

So first, the two tried making a “lotion scooper.” But that didn’t work out so well, and neither did their next step, a “push pop lotion” that could be twisted. 

“Before we came up with our double-sided lotion bottle, we were kind of discouraged,” Victoria said.

However, the girls found success with a prototype that opens on both ends to get the most use of the lotion product inside.

“Although you could be discouraged, you keep on trying. We ended up having that problem, but we fixed it with more ideas and thinking,” said Victoria.

Other CYC projects included:

  • Glow in the dark shoelaces to keep pedestrians safe from vehicles and each other.
  • The concept of a hover car carrier that would easily transport vehicles from one state to another.
  • “Purpose Pack:” A battery powered tech bag that charges electronic devices and has its own Internet hotspot.
  • “F.L.E.X (Futuristic Lithium Electric Xperience):” A battery powered car that compacts for portability.

Generous funding from organizations like the Polk Bros. Foundation, Rivers Casino, ArcelorMittal, Motorola Solutions Fund,Zakat Foundation, and Peoples Gas gave our staff the flexibility to purchase materials to build prototypes of the students’ concepts. Thank you to our supporters for helping us create safe spaces that allow our kids to keep tinkering, experimenting, and finding solutions to their daily problems. You are equipping tomorrow’s leaders with the grit and creativity needed to succeed in the workplace.

 CYC students and staff stand with the inventions and presentations they brought to the chicago student invention convention.

CYC students and staff stand with the inventions and presentations they brought to the chicago student invention convention.