Announcing Our 2017 Inventor’s Challenge Winners

By Anne Wintroub
Mar 29, 2017 11:35 AM ET

For the past several months, AT&T has been collaborating with Imagination Foundation on our second-annual Inventor’s Challenge – bringing together young people from around the world to create innovative, imaginative and often totally viable solutions that solve problems in their schools and communities. This year, we saw entries from nearly 10,000 kids and teens from pre-k to high school, with ideas that ranged from a 3D-printed soap dispenser to spring-loaded “sky shoes” to help anyone reach great heights.

Each entry proves why we are so excited about this partnership: the Challenge integrates science, technology, engineering, art and math (STEAM) alongside critical 21st century skills. What’s more is these young people demonstrate such mastery of life skills —problem-solving, teamwork, optimism, patience and the ability to experiment and take risks — that are not only critical to student success, but also skills we look for in all of our AT&T employees.

But what amazed me most was the level of empathy these kids showed. Several came up with ideas for helping the less fortunate – such as Kaylee from Bluffton, S.C., who created an innovative new way to collect food for the homeless with her "Box for Food." Others designed new ways to help save the environment like New Hampshire’s Team Waggle and their Bee Safe Ap designed to help save honey bees. As I reviewed each of these entries, I was reminded of just how important care is – and that young people often offer us the best reminders of how to make the world a better place.

Imagination Foundation and the AT&T Intellectual Property team of judges had the very challenging job of picking four winners (one for each age category) along with an honorable mention from the thousands of applicants. They review thousands of new inventions and patent submissions and were quite impressed by the creativity of the Inventor’s Challenge participants. It was incredibly difficult to narrow down our choices given how many standout ideas we received, but we are thrilled to share those entries below!

We are so proud of all the students who submitted their inventions to the Inventor’s Challenge. Keep on imagining, inventing, sharing and caring! You truly are making the world a better place.

If you’d like to see all of the inventions, check out the videos on the Inventor’s Challenge playlist


Our Honorable mention goes to Coeur d'Arlene Idaho's “Purposeful Inventors.” A group of young inventors who are tackling the challenges facing children with physical disabilities and are designing a car for their friend with cerebral palsy. These children truly showcase how empathy, problem-finding (and solving) and creativity can join forces.

The Thomas Edison Prize (Grades PreK–2) goes to young Alyssa’s “The Journey Box.”

Alyssa, a 2nd grader from Grayson, Ga., wins this category for inventing a package of simple toys and materials that strive to add joy to the life of homeless children “all around the world.”

The Alexander Graham Bell Prize (Grades 3–5) goes to 11 year old Kiki from Richmond, Va., for her “All-You-Need-Cane.”

Kiki invented the “swiss army knife” of canes to help improve the life of seniors. The cane even includes a flashlight and shoehorn! She was inspired by the challenges faced by her grandfather, and we are inspired by her.

The Nikola Tesla Prize (Grades 6–8) goes to Villanova, Pa., student and 2016 second prize winner Bram’s “Integrated Stress Fault Detector (ISFD).”

The ISFD is a potential solution to the devastation caused by building collapses. Using an arduino microprocessor and a flex sensor, this device can alert emergency services when it detects excessive stress on structures like support beams, allowing more time for evacuation. Yes, he really is 14 years old.

And finally, The Leonardo Da Vinci Prize (Grades 9–12) goes to Kellyn from Manchester, N.H., for her “Switch Shelf.”

The Switch Shelf is a simple and clever invention for people living in small spaces. With wheels fitted in the back of a shelf, this piece of furniture can function as both a standup shelf and a flat rollaway storage solution. It works by “… combining two organizational methods into one piece of furniture.”