Social Entrepreneurs In The Making: Young Inventors On A Mission To Change The World


Young Inventor Challenge is always one of the most inspiring days of the year, with hundreds of young inventors coming together under one roof to display their bright ideas. The 8th Annual Young Inventor Challenge was no exception, and we noticed a heartening trend emerging in the game and toy inventions on display this November. Many young inventors out there are asking themselves: how can we help others while we play?

Today we shine a spotlight on two outstanding young groups of entrepreneurs: eight young people from East Troy, Wisconsin who created Apple Core, a game that teaches computer literacy skills to senior citizens, and a group of passionate young women from Charleston, South Carolina who have raised over $70,000 for charity with their recycled crafting project, Keys For Hope.

Apple Core, created by the St. Peter's Brickbusters FIRST LEGO League Team, uses fifty interactive, dry erase playing cards to encourage people to use iPhones and iPads. The FIRST LEGO League is an international problem-solving club for kids developed by Segway inventor, Dean Kamen. Apple Core was developed in response to this year’s problem: how can you teach a new skill in an innovative way?

The inventors have already put their game to the test in a weekly technology class for senior citizens. In addition to creating a webpage with tutorial videos, they are also developing an app version of the game. We asked the inventors to tell us more about their creation.

WHAT FIRST INSPIRED YOU TO MAKE APPLE CORE?

Some of our grandparents did not know what an iPad was, and some struggle with technology in general so we wanted to teach them 21st century technology skills. Our hope is that people have fun while learning about technology in an innovative way.

WHAT WAS THE INVENTION PROCESS LIKE FOR YOU? DID YOU FACE ANY CHALLENGES?

The invention process was fun, long, hard, and creative. There was some pressure to finish on time, but we had a great feeling at the end, especially when we could watch the seniors play the game. There was a lot of laughter, lighthearted competition and learning going on.

WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR FAVORITE BOARD GAMES AND TOYS?

We love: Scrabble, Word Winder created by our mentor David L. Hoyt, Operation (we thought it was so cool to meet John Spinello), Monopoly, Risk, Sorry, Chess, Tapple, Telestrations, and Life.

WHO IN THE WORLD INSPIRES YOU MOST?

Our team looks up to our parents and our Lego League Mentors. Some of us also think Einstein was inspirational! The senior citizens in our lives are also people we respect because of their knowledge of things we don't know how to do or know about. Their history is inspirational.

What’s next for the Apple Core team? In addition to dreams of becoming doctors, chiropractors, civil engineers, writers, architects, bakery shop owners and neurosurgeons, these young inventors were one of 38 teams selected out of 500 to advance to the FIRST LEGO League state finals in February.

We also interviewed two of the creators of Keys For Hope, a nonprofit organization that raises funds for charities by selling decorated keys have been repurposed as necklaces, key chains, magnets, zipper pulls and ornaments.

TELL US ABOUT KEYS FOR HOPE. HOW DOES IT WORK?

We started KFH about three years ago to raise money for our local homeless shelter, One80 Place. When we heard that the

One80 Place needed one million more dollars to complete the building of a new shelter, we really wanted to help. Since we were too young to volunteer, we decided to make and sell something that had a meaning. We thought of a key, since it represents having a safe place to call home and hope for a better future.

WHAT FIRST MOTIVATED YOU TO MAKE THE CRAFT KITS?

Our goal with Keys for Hope is not only to raise money for One80 Place and end homelessness, but to also involve and inspire kids everywhere. We want to start a movement of kids all across America to give back, and we hope that the craft kits can help achieve this. Kids can raise money for any cause or charity that they are passionate about.

DID ANYONE HELP INSPIRE YOU ALONG THE WAY?

We look up to a very amazing woman, Christine Osborne, who owns Wonder Works toy store in Charleston. In addition to supporting many charities herself, she was the first store to “sell” our keys. She gives us advice, and helps us spread the word about our cause. We wouldn’t be where we are without her!

Because of our outstanding, generous community, most of our supplies are donated and that support has helped Keys for Hope reach $70,000 already.

Brian Turtle who created one of our favorite board games, Oddly Obvious, was a major fan of Keys For Hope at the Chicago Toy and Game Fair and he gave us some brilliant advice on expanding our project.

WHERE CAN ANYONE WHO IS INTERESTED PURCHASE THE KITS?

We offer the keys for a $5.00 donation throughout Charleston, SC, at local stores, festivals, and in our neighborhoods. We are hoping to sell our kits in toy stores and retail stores nationwide, but our kits will definitely will be sold on our website, http://www.keysforhope.org. The kits come in different themes and are great for birthday parties, Girl Scout troops, or just a fun get together with friends.

WHAT DO YOU HOPE PEOPLE WILL GET OUT OF THE CRAFTING EXPERIENCE?

We hope that kids will realize that they are never too young to make a difference. Just one small act of kindness can make a huge change.

We couldn’t agree more! Congratulations to all of the talented 2014 Young Inventor Challenge participants and winners! We look forward to seeing what you come up with in 2015.

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