'Continue to use their creative ideas': Students' creation a finalist in international competition

In this file photo, students Jailyn Garcia, Andrea Hernandez and Glendi Deleon, from left, with mentor Melea Wade, right, demonstrate the No Bakey Shakey Blankie to judges at City Park School earlier this year. The flame-retardant invention is designed to awaken individuals if there is a fire through vibrations, loud sounds and flashing lights. It is a finalist in an international competition.

Members of the public can vote to help a group of local students possibly win up to $1,000 in an international competition.

The students — Glendi Deleon and Jailyn Garcia, rising sixth-graders at Dalton Middle School, and Andrea Hernandez, a rising fifth-grader at City Park School — could also win up to $100,000 and a trip to Los Angeles if their entry into The Paradigm Challenge is selected for first place in their age division.

The students were members of City Park School's STEP (science, technology, engineering and production) Club, an after-school engineering club for girls, during the most recent school year. They created the No Bakey Shakey Blankie, a flame-retardant blanket that is designed to awaken people through vibrations, loud sounds and flashing lights in the event of a fire, for a school competition. The blanket is one of 100 finalists in The Paradigm Challenge, an ongoing competition where "students aged 4 to 18 all around the world used kindness, creativity and collaboration to help address home fires, waste reduction, personal health and food security," according to information provided by The Paradigm Challenge.

As one of 100 finalists, the local students' entry can be voted on by the public, with the 10 finalists receiving the most votes receiving cash prizes ranging from $100 to $1,000. Voting is limited to one vote per entry per person. Voting began June 1 and continues through July 15 at http://bit.ly/ShakeyBlankie.

The competition will also choose first-place winners in each age division whose creators (up to four team members and a parent or guardian for each team member) will receive a four-day/three-night trip to Los Angeles to attend The Paradigm Challenge Prize Ceremony and the possibility of winning up to $100,000. The results of the public voting do not figure into the first-place or grand prize winners. The age divisions are 4-8, 9-13 and 14-18.

"A blue-ribbon panel of judges will evaluate finalist entries based on effectiveness, feasibility, originality, presentation and collaboration to determine the first, second, third and grand prize winners," the competition's website states.

Lisa Cushman is the City Park STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) teacher who also oversees the STEP Club.

"They (the students) will be notified if they are a top three finalist and then at that point get the prize package to come to California at the end of July," Cushman said.

The winners will also receive a trip to Disneyland, a spending allowance, money for clothes, limousine transportation and a walk on the red carpet at the ceremony.

Cushman said she hasn't spoken to the students since receiving the news about their entry being a finalist.

"I gathered them during the last week of school to (tell them) there was a possibility they were finalists," she said. "They were very excited and could not believe their idea was recognized. The other STEP Club girls were also happy for the team."

Cushman said she's proud of the work all seven teams did this year.

"They (the projects) were creative and helpful to others," she said. "It is exciting one of our groups was chosen from ideas submitted from around the world to be in the top 100 finalists."

Cushman said if the students are chosen to go to California it will be an opportunity they may not have otherwise.

"I don’t know if any of them have traveled to California before," she said. "I hope it will inspire them to continue to use their creative ideas to solve problems they see in the community and around the world."

After winning the school competition with the blanket, the students advanced to the K-12 InVenture Prize Competition at Georgia Tech in March.

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