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Young Innovator Competition Stimulates Kids’ Minds

The USF-sponsored contest not only encourages creativity and ingenuity in schoolchildren, it also rewards them for their efforts.

As any parent knows, kids always have a million ideas floating around in their heads.

Whether it’s finding a better way to make their beds or an easier way to turn the pages of their textbooks, a child has no limit to his or hier capacity to come up with new ways to do things.

Anton Hopen, a patent lawyer and University of South Florida grad, decided to do something to help stimulate these ideas and provide kids with an outlet for their creativity.

Five years ago, Hopen founded the Young Innovator Competition, a contest open to grades kingergarten through 12 in eight Tampa Bay counties, as a way to encourage kids’ creative side while rewarding the best ideas. 

“We ask the kids who enter the competition to think of a problem, come up with a solution, and tell us what they can do to make a situation better,” Hopen, who has an office in Oldsmar, told Patch via telephone. 

“We’re trying to get inventors and entrepreneurs and stimulate that entrepreneurial spirit in kids,” he said.

The contest began on Nov. 1 and runs through Jan. 25.

To enter students have to visit the competition’s website and fill out the online entry form. There, they provide a name and trademark for the product, the reason why they came up with the idea and a sketch of the product.

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Entrants will be whittled down to 50, and then to a pool of 10 finalists. Those 10 will then undergo a week of training by qualified professionals before making a final presentation to a team of judges at USF’s Patel Center on Feb. 13.

Each applicant will receive a day pass to MOSI, while the top prize is $1,000 for the entrant and their school. Last year Hopen said they received nearly 600 applications.

“What’s nice is that everybody gets something,” Hopen said. “We want everybody to have motivation to do this.”

Even with the deadline for entries approaching, Hopen says it’s not too late to apply. 

“We usually get the majority of the applications in the final week,” he said. “Some are coming in at midnight on the last day.”

To enter the Young Innovators Competition, visit their website and fill out the entry form. The last day to submit an application is at midnight on Jan. 25. The final 10 applicants will face off on Monday, Feb. 11 at the Patel Center on the USF campus.

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