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Willow Springs high schoolers to head to national invention contest in November


Over the weekend of Feb. 2 through 4, three Willow Springs High school students traveled to Kansas City with team leader Matt Knapp and sponsor Sabrina Lee to compete at Make48 on the University of Missouri-Kansas City campus, shared district Communications Director Jenny Hayward. Make48 is an invention competition in Which Willow Springs against six other schools from across the state.

The students, Nolan Perkins, Maddie Poor and Seth Wake, competing under the name “Innovation Hall Bears,” spent all three days prototyping a brand-new invention in response to a prompt to “improve the stadium experience.” Throughout the literal 48-hour competition, the students created a physical prototype of their invention, mocked up a phone application, shot a promotional video and compiled the necessary information to present a professional sales pitch to a panel of judges, including a representative from the Sporting Kansas City soccer team and the Project Lead the Way Program.

The students were chosen as representatives of the school’s new Career Technical Center, Innovation Hall. Each student represented a different part of the Career Technical Education programs being newly offered: Nolan Perkins from Bear Media, Maddie Poor from Business Entrepreneurship and Seth Wake from Project Lead the Way Engineering.

Through the competition, the students worked with industry professionals to craft parts from industrial equipment that included CNC (computer numerical control) routers and milling machines, laser cutters and other fabrication tools. They worked tirelessly for as many as 19 hours per day to perfect their product and pitch and the work paid off when they won the competition’s top prize and became state champions.

The team brought home a custom-made trophy crafted in the UMKC Maker Space and a $2,000 cash prize.

Their win cements their placement in the national competition to be held in November. Make48 is a televised innovation competition and the event was filmed for the first two episodes of its eighth season. This fall, the episodes will air on Roku Channel on the This Old House program, as well as on YouTube.