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Area High School Students Participate in Make48 Competition

A city with a rich history of innovation nurtured its newest inventors on Saturday.

Creative students and adults created prototypes ranging from remote-controlled reindeer to snowball catapults as part of the Make48 invent-a-thon held at The Lincoln Academy (TLA) from Friday through Sunday.

Make48 is hosting maker competitions in eight U.S. cities this year. It selected Beloit as one of its event locations thanks to a Beloit College connection.

The winning team will compete in the national competition in Kansas City, Missouri in March, receive $2,000, and retain the intellectual property rights for the invention. The national event will be aired on TV via PBS. A film crew had already begun capturing Beloit footage on Saturday.

Beloit Memorial High School (BMHS), The Lincoln Academy (TLA), Turner School District and Beloit College had teams at the event as well as a few family and friend groups. The youngest inventor was 10 years old.

Make48 co-founder and CEO Tom Gray said participants learned the challenge details on Friday, and had 48 hours to plan, design and make a prototype, and pitch the new idea. The Beloit challenge required participants to make an outdoor winter game.

Make48’s tool technicians were on scene to help run The Lincoln Academy’s 3D printers and do any necessary fabrication work. Participants also were stopping in at local stores to round up some basic materials and the occasional can of spray paint.

The winner was to be named Sunday, although the name will remain under wraps until the competition is aired on PBS.

Having the tool technicians available, Gray explained, gives opportunities to people who have no prior experience, but have the vision and collaboration skills necessary for success.

Competitors met with various businesses on Friday to share ideas. Playmonster, Farm & Fleet and an engineer from Fairbanks Morse Defense were to conduct the judging.

BMHS seniors Khader Abdalah, Jorden Gosa and Sebastian Grajeda, with a team name of “The Gents” were painting “Fling A Thing.” Resembling a cornhole board, the game had three holes. Players would use a catapult attached to their arms to fling snowballs in the holes. The students said it was not only fun, but easy to market and pitch to judges. A “mousetrap mechanism” was to be used to propel the ball forward. In warmer temperatures, a ball could be used.

The only all-girl team, the “Mighty Lions” from The Lincoln Academy were making remote controlled “Racing Reindeer,” explained 10th graders Kemoria Haley, Ciata Jester and Kalyn Ottinger. The two, 10-inch tall reindeer would pull a sled toting a snowball maker. The winner would get the privilege of hurling a snowball at the loser.

“We all love to throw snowballs,” Ottinger said.

Jester said it was also a great way to lure people off traditional electronics and get them active outdoors.

A team of Turner teachers known as “Full Steam Ahead” consisted of Eric Schmutzer, Mitchell Johnson, Nolan Otremba and Tami Scot. They hoped to share what they learned about the CAD software and 3D printers with students. They designed molds for dyed water which could be frozen into colorful shapes of ice. Players would draw “Freeze Forms” cards to see what shape they needed to create.

The event costs roughly $100,000 to bring to Beloit, with a long list of Beloit businesses stepping up to support it, Franks said.

The action-packed weekend included an event for business guests highlighting the more than 1,500 patents created in Beloit. Many inventions have risen out of the city, including the first corn curl, various patents related to ship building at Fairbanks Morse Defense, Broaster chicken and more.

“It’s an astonishing amount of invention,” Franks said.

Event organizers said the winners will be announced in the coming months and they will be sharing updates on the budding Beloit inventors and their product advancement soon.