Colle and Phyllis Davis Judge Thomas A. Edison Regional Inventors Fair in Southern Florida
- by Colle and Phyllis Davis, Board Members, Edison Inventors Association, Inc.
As a supporter of the Thomas A. Edison Regional Inventors Fair, many members of Edison Inventors Association, Inc. attended the event on January 25, 2014, as judges for the students’ (K-12) inventions.
After being graciously welcomed by event volunteers, the judges were offered a continental breakfast after which Gary Nelson provided the 60 (or more) judges an eloquent and informative talk that explained:
The purpose of the event which is to promote and encourage the innovation process among America’s youth.
The rules for judging and offering scores for the student’s inventions in the following categories: originality, usefulness, research, marketability, log book and over-all presentation. It was stressed that judges use discernment in each category in our decisions for scoring the students inventions
Information about the wide range of prizes, cash and scholarships that were being awarded to the students on January 27, 2014. The scores offered by the judges were part of the determination for the award process along with further evaluations by Committee Members at the leadership levels of the Regional Inventors Fair. Some reports have stated that the total prizes were in the range of over $900,000.
After Gary Nelson’s presentation, the judges were grouped into small groups of three and asked to choose students standing in front of their inventions to begin the judging process.
As the judges were invited onto the floor, they saw 700 carefully prepared exhibits on tabletops with the young student/inventors standing nervously in front of their exhibits waiting for the judges to approach them. It was their ‘moment of truth’ and truth-be-told, the judges were perhaps as nervous as the students.
The students were very shy at first as they began explaining their invention but as they begin to speak, their passion for their idea ignited them and they became animated, excited and began smiling widely as they told us about their idea. As judges, we asked them questions and offered simple advice (when appropriate) with suggestions ‘they might consider’ regarding their invention. They responded with nods, smiles and appreciation because they knew that we had listened to them carefully, encouraged them and understood their concept.
It is impossible to stand in front of a first or second grader presenting his or her invention without wanting to . . . well, I’ll just stay it, without being so filled with tenderness that it was very tempting to cry and embrace them out of respect and affection. But, as ‘judges’ we remained professional and encouraging to the students.
After each presentation, the judges thanked the students for participating in the Inventors Fair and we shook hands with the young inventors and told them their parents were waiting for them in the next room. The children then scurried away, quickly, to meet their parents and the eyes of the judges would meet for an instant prior to offering our scores on the tally sheet and in that moment there was a sense of wonder in our eyes that the students had left behind that inspired us with both a vulnerability and a confidence that wiped away any fears we had about the future of the United States.
As we drove away from the event on Saturday morning, we both shed tears and laughter as we recounted the stories of the young inventors and their inventions that we had judged.
The Inventors Fair was a very special event.
On behalf of Edison Inventors Association, we would like to congratulate all those who participated in the Thomas A. Edison Regional Inventors Fair. It was our sincere honor to participate.
Whether you are a full-time inventor or part time inventor, we all get to experience that childlike wonder and curiosity that we saw in the students and it reminded us that we are the luckiest people alive to be able work in a profession that we can stay ‘ forever young’ and passionate every day of our lives. Please continue on your path of innovation and creativity and may you always explore ideas with the passion of an open mind and the heart of a child.