Local youngsters impressed us with their novel ideas at the final of our 2018 Innovation Competition held at Canterbury Christ Church University yesterday, watched by an audience including teachers, fellow students and Rotarians.
This was the fifth year of the Rotary competition, and the second that it was hosted at Christ Church University. Organisers had received over 100 entries from several schools across Kent. Following initial pre-judging these had been whittled down to nine entries, all of which were invited to give brief presentations outlining their ideas – touching on usefulness, originality, marketability and market research, design, materials, costs and distribution.
Organiser, Rtn Brian Dobinson kicked off the event by introducing Dr Hellen Ward, a Principal Lecturer and STEM Ambassador from Canterbury Christ Church University, who enthused the youngsters and encouraged them to stay involved in the STEM - science, technology, engineering and mathematics - field.
Next, Rotary Club of Canterbury President Margaret Griffin (in her first official role since taking over as President on Tuesday) gave a warm welcome to everyone and wished the youngsters luck.
Josh Matteson, from The Langton Grammar School for Boys, kicked off the presentations with a lively talk about his idea – ‘Pivot’, a rest for kitchen equipment that he suggested would be a useful in improving hygiene and cleanliness in the kitchen. Using technological tools Josh had created a model design for his product which he was able to show during his presentation. Next up was Jacob Rennals, also from Langton, who spoke about his idea, mirrored ‘Cycleyes’, which he suggested would help cyclists see traffic behind them and so improve road safety. Another two presentations followed from Langton: Khari Damani (who, in the spirit of improving tolerance and understanding, spoke about a concept that would help people compare various religions, their customs and traditions) and Joshua Jose (who had an innovative, environment-conscious idea for saving power with a motion-sensitive switch that would have potential in both the domestic and industrial market).
Elena Kelsall, from Dover Grammar School for Girls then gave her presentation on ‘Realistic Rabbit’ – inspired by her pet rabbit and research that suggested having a pet could be good for the mental health and wellbeing of groups such as the elderly. Two presentations from Queen Elizabeth Grammar School for Girls in Faversham followed. In the first Ellie Reed, showing how a simple and inexpensive gadget could potentially help a lot of people, presented her idea of a small, convenient and easy-to-use aid for pulling up zips and doing buttons. Her talk was followed by Niamh Watts who presented her idea of an ‘Altruistic Watch’ – in essence an activity tracker like ‘Fidbit’ but which, innovatively, was linked to giving money to charity. Basically, the more one exercises, the more money is donated to a cause – an idea inspired by ‘Freerice’, a World Food Programme game to help end hunger.
The last two presentations were from the Sir Roger Manwood School. Eve Pride had developed two prototypes of her idea – a ‘Bee Bath’ – complete with bee-themed mock packaging and marketing leaflets. Her concept – which addressed the concern over the dwindling population of bees (that are essential for pollination of many crops and plants) – was basically a device that fed bees nourishing sweet liquid while repelling ants and other insects. Not only had she thought about the device and its packaging, she had also thought about the packaging for the food and repellent. The final presentation was from Laura Musselwhite-Dale and Chloe Nelson and also addressed a topical environmental concern: that of plastics in the sea. The idea was basically an aqua-botic shark-shaped submarine that would collect (or ‘eat up’) the oceans waste while, because of its shark-like shape, deterring fish and other sea life, Not only had the team come up with a nice design, but they had even thought about promotional material which they had mocked up for the judges (and audience) to see.
While the judges went off to deliberate, Dr Gary Robinson Lecturer and Senior Commercialisation Manager from the University of Kent gave a presentation on the protection and exploitation of ideas; he also made general observations about the presentations.
The three judges, Past Rotary President Harry Cragg, Chairman of the judges Rtn Julie Reza and Derek Fellows had a hard time deciding the winners, and it was a close call with the top three. After some detailed discussions of strengths and weaknesses of each idea and presentation they decided on the following: 1st prize (of £300) went to Niamh Watts (Altruistic Watch), 2nd prize of £100 went to Josh Matteson (Pivot), and 3rd prize (of £50) went to Eve Pryde (Bee Bath). The judges also thought three entries deserved a special mention on the basic of their idea, demonstration and/or presentation and designs: Joshua Jose, Ellie Reed and Laura Musselwhite-Dake/Chloe Nelson. The judges were impressed by the quality of the PowerPoint presentations and felt that for this it was the best year so far in the history of the competition.
All presenters were awarded a certificate and other than the winners all received a small consolation prize. Prizes and certificates were awarded to the winners by Rtn Andrew Clague, President Margaret Griffin and Sheriff of Canterbury Councillor Jeanette Stockley.
After a short address by Andrew (who spoke of his company’s ‘motto’ that focuses on “the power of ideas”) and the Sheriff of Canterbury (who said: “It’s been a great opportunity for everyone who took part in the competition”), Margaret closed the event with another encouraging speech. “It’s been a real privilege to be here today,” she said; “I never imagined I was going to enjoy it as much as I have. Don’t make this the end, make this the beginning!”
Special thanks go to Canterbury Christ Church University for hosting us for the second year running; to sponsors Clague Architects, John Parker & Son, and the Kentish Gazette; to the Sheriff of Canterbury Councillor & her husband; to Gary Robinson, and to all teachers and students who helped, presented and participated. Thanks are also given to all Club Members who helped behind the scenes in the build up to the event and on the day and who, as audience members, often asked astute questions of presenters. PP Richard Kemball-Cook acted as timekeeper while photographs (which will be available shortly on our Facebook page) were kindly taken by volunteer Anju Maunick.
Picture: Competitors at the event with the Sheriff of Canterbury and organisers/judges. Picture credit: Anju Maunick/Rotary Club of Canterbury.