OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — The first Kansas City Invention Convention wraps up Thursday with an awards ceremony.
The inaugural local event is part of an ongoing nationwide push to expose students to career opportunities in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).
Winners from the Kansas City area can earn scholarships and/or advance to the national competition.
“It [STEM education] builds lifelong skills like critical thinking and creativity,” explained Eric Ward, the vice president for public programs at the Linda Hall Library in Kansas City, Missouri.
The library has hosted the KC Invention Convention, which has been completely virtual due to COVID-19.
Surrounded by the University of Missouri - Kansas City campus, but not affiliated with the university, the Linda Hall Library is a research library focused on science and technology.
Its collections are open to the general public, but it often draws visitors who are lawyers, rocket scientists, engineers and inventors; making it the perfect place to facilitate competition for a group of young inventors like Kelly Ann Greene.
The senior at St. Teresa’s Academy in Kansas City, Missouri, was one of 24 students from the Kansas City region to participate in the event.
Each student spent roughly four months creating an invention to solve a real-world problem. Students had to research ideas, come up with marketing strategies and were paired with industry professionals who could mentor them along the way.
Greene invented the “Babysaver.” It’s a device to prevent parents from leaving infants and toddlers in the backseat of a vehicle, where roughly 39 children die of heatstroke every year in the U.S.
“This problem is so much more common than people realize,” Greene admitted.
She has two provisional patents pending on her invention. It uses sensors to detect if a child is in their car seat, takes the temperature, monitors the child’s pulse and blood oxygen levels using a device that goes in the child’s sock, and then alerts authorities of the child’s GPS location if it determines they were left unattended.
“It is just so avoidable and heartbreaking,” Greene said of child heatstroke deaths.
Inventions like Green’s “Babysaver” left organizers inspired.
“It was really cool to see how this generation really is going to invent the future and is already thinking critically about really important real-world problems,” explained Samantha Hollingsworth, the Linda Hall Library program manager.
Register on the library’s website to watch the awards ceremony live at 6:30 p.m. Thursday to view the winning inventions.