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July 27, 2018

The 10th Annual Emoti-Con: Students Across All Boroughs Present Their Innovations to the Public, EdSurge

By Angy Noemy Lara
View post on EdSurge

The historic Celeste Bartos Forum in the New York Public Library buzzed with ecstasy and creativity recently at the 10th annual Emoti-Con, a fair for students to showcase the projects they’ve been working on all year.

Students from all ages came from all five boroughs to also gain insights from other projects. Additionally, they got to listen to keynote speakers who shared their successes and failures in the world of technology. The talks were inspirational, and helped give the audience a sense of what to expect when pursuing a career in technology.

I was one of the many young innovators there to present my futuristic project, Wheel Wiping Whenever. My teammates and I worked with Vernita, a wheelchair user who wanted an efficient way to clean her wheels. To illustrate the problem, picture this: When you walk into a store on a rainy day, you can simply dry your feet on the floor mat. But for a wheelchair user, the wheels do not dry off with the mat alone and often times leave water/dirt on the store’s floors.

We created a portable hand held device that would clean the wheels wherever the user goes. My team had to go through many prototypes to decide on the final design. This took a lot of work, but to present it at Emoti-Con was all worth it.

This was my first ever Emoti-Con. If it wasn’t for joining Mouse Design League after learning about it from my technology teacher, I wouldn't have been able to experience such an inspiring event. The Mouse Design League is a group of high school students that share a common goal: use technology to make a positive impact on the lives of others.

Everywhere I turned, there were students proudly standing next to their inventions ready to pitch their ideas. Projects ranged from the Intrepid Ocean Processor, a game stimulation that raises awareness about pollution, to Pedal/Petals, which uses art to honor all the events at the presenters’ school. In total, there were 37 creations and more than 300 attendees! A group of judges with various careers relating to technology gave out awards to commemorate the amazing projects that were presented. Attendees were able to pick the winner for the crowd favorite:

  • Best Pitch Award: Sugar Hill Creamery (Bronx International High School)
  • Point Of View Award: The Hijab Experience (The Island School)
  • Most Social Impact Award: EmpQuest (Tech Kids Unlimited)
  • Most Entertaining Award: Elegant Unisex Beauty Salon AR Project (Bronx International High School)
  • Most Innovative Award: Digi-Mitts (DreamYard Design League)
  • Crowd Favorite: Petal/Pedals (Beam Center and Fannie Lou High School)

And the Honorable Mentions:

  • Best Pitch (tie): Amira’s Wearable Tech (The School at Columbia) & GroundWatch (Nano Hackers Academy)
  • Point Of View: The Hidden Stories of Homelessness (EVC)
  • Most Social Impact: Amplify (CUNY)
  • Most Entertaining: Intrepid Ocean Protector (ScriptEd)
  • Most Innovative: The One Board (Mouse Design League)

Projects weren’t the only part of the day. We had the chance to “Emoti-Connect” — the event’s term for networking — with many technology and media professionals such as Dr. Amon Miller, Assistant Professor of Computing and Innovation directing the Extending Access to STEM Empowerment (EASE) Lab at The Olin School of Engineering. (That also happens to be one of my dream universities.) Listening to Dr. Miller, one of the creators of visual programming language and online community Scratch, talk about how he always pulled positive feedback from the rejections he received was especially inspiring. Scratch kick-started my interest in coding, and learning about that part of the creator’s path is definitely an experience I’m going to reflect on as I go through my years in college.

I met a judge at the networking event who will be attending New York University with me in the fall. To see such an extraordinary woman decide to continue her education at the same school as me gave me the extra passion I needed as I prepare to begin my studies. By far, the networking event was my favorite segment of the day because I was able to pull inspiration from it.

If I wasn’t graduating, I would join Mouse Design League again to experience the excitement of Emoti-con a second time. I learned so much from that day, and I’m sure I’m not the only one. With that, special thanks to every single person who helped make this day happen, because it was a day of inspiration that the young innovators of tomorrow will always remember.

___

Angy Noemy Lara is from Queens, New York and will be attending New York University this fall to pursue a computer engineering degree. Angy is currently a member of Mouse Design League in Manhattan, where she explores her passion for engineering through helping society in all shapes and forms.

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