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05/06/2016: Students from Snell Middle School in Bayard, NM, demonstrate how to use a language translation system they developed during the 2016 Innoventure Competition at the NMSU Corbett Center Student Union. |  Photo by Darren Phillips
05/06/2016: Students from Snell Middle School in Bayard, NM, demonstrate how to use a language translation system they developed during the 2016 Innoventure Competition at the NMSU Corbett Center Student Union. | Photo by Darren Phillips

Innoventure’s Student Entrepreneurs Focus on Helping Those with Disabilities

If you could create a new device or product that helps someone with a disability navigate their life with greater ease, what would it be? A group of middle and high school students from around New Mexico contemplated that question and came up with some unexpected solutions as they participated in the Innoventure competition through New Mexico State University’s Arrowhead Center.

Those teams – 45 of them from all over the state – will participate in the annual Innoventure competition at Corbett Center Student Union on the Las Cruces campus from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Friday, May 5. The public is encouraged to attend a student invention showcase from 2:30 to 3:15 p.m. Friday on the first floor of Corbett Center.

“We have the most teams we’ve ever had this year, including new teams from schools in Albuquerque and Rio Rancho who are the first from their school to join this program,” said Marie Borchert, director of Innoventure.

The Innoventure program is designed to generate excitement and creativity in students and provide the experience of transforming an idea into a prototype of a product. Student teams worked throughout the academic year to create a product and prototype that assists someone with a physical disability to complete an everyday task, such as feeding themselves, getting dressed, taking out the trash, or going to the grocery store. Judges from NMSU, the community and industry will evaluate each team’s work.

As they prepared, students learned more about people with disabilities, who represent 19 percent of the population, according to the 2010 U.S. Census. They also participated in webcasts to learn about public speaking and how to tackle prototyping.

While on campus Friday, the students will learn how to use crowdfunding and attend workshops with Studio G, Arrowhead Center’s student business accelerator, as well as the Student Accessibility Services office at Dona Ana Community College.

Innoventure is now in its 14th year and has served more than 2,500 students, some of whom have gone on to attend NMSU and work with Studio G to further develop their business ideas. Many student teams return year after year to participate. Innoventure has been one of Arrowhead Center’s core programs since its founding, and expansion efforts this academic year for the program were sponsored in part by the Daniels Fund.

The competition is part of a suite of Innoventure programs, including Innoventure Jr., an online program for elementary-age students, and Camp Innoventure, a week-long entrepreneurship-themed summer day camp that continues to expand. This summer, Camp Innoventure will take place all over the state, with sessions in Alamogordo, Albuquerque, Clovis, Deming, Las Cruces, Rio Rancho and Roswell.

Registration for the camps is available up to a week before they begin, and the schedule and registration information can be found HERE.

“Our long-term, robust program for K-12 entrepreneurs is unique in New Mexico,” Borchert said. “It creates a pipeline and develops students over a long period of time to increase their college readiness, as well as their career readiness.”

Kate Sanchez, a math teacher at Anton Chico Middle School in rural northern New Mexico near Santa Rosa, said Innoventure has allowed her to expose her students to a world that they might have never had experienced otherwise.

“Innoventure has not only given these students the opportunity to feel accomplished, by inventing and presenting their own original ideas, but it has also helped them to begin thinking about their future,” said Sanchez, who serves as an Innoventure adviser for two Anton Chico teams, Wolf Pack and Helping Hands. “This program has brightened the future of many of the students who have gone through Anton Chico Middle School.”

Technology prizes for the competition’s winners include a laptop, Bluetooth headphones and wireless earbuds.

For more information, click > Innoventure program or contact Borchert at mhaaland@nmsu.edu.

Author: Amanda Bradford – NMSU

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