First National Trip Ends in Superior Sportsmanship

Akira Mitchell of Tech Start Tampa Bay and STEM teacher Deborah Davis along with parents Aileen De La Rosa, Daniel Yeh, Jennifer Haber  all accompanied Amaya Hall, Jayna Allen, Denzyl Downing, Katie Haber and Ethan Yeh to NICEE2016 for this team of young inventors to pitch each of their ideas to a panel of judges on Saturday May 20th. Before getting to business, there were a lot of sites to see (and for one inventor, their first plane ride). At this point, no one had any idea that these young Florida innovators would demonstrate such superior sportsmanship.

Thursday, the 19th, was travel day; everyone met up and set off without a hitch.


Pro-tip: We found the most cost-effective and quickest form of transportation to be the metro!

Once at the hotel, we encountered a snag (that our rooms weren’t adjoined) but we checked-in and got settled. We hit another snag regarding the location of registration but we figured it out quickly enough and moved on to THE ICE CREAM PARTY (everyone slept well this night).

On Friday morning it was discovered that being with the innovation groups was not necessary. This was the perfect opportunity for exploration. The young entrepreneurs absolutely loved this!


The metro was a fun new experience.  Nerves were high, but charged with excitement.

While exploring, we decided to come up with a crew cry. The first suggestion was a dolphin cry, but it was determined the squeek of a dolphin might not be heard over long distances and this was a noise we would make if we got separated. Instead we landed on “orange”.

So as this team of young inventors (and chaperones) were exploring the offerings of our nation’s capital, jubilations of “ORANGE!” were being shouted loudly at random intervals.

Our stops included the National Monument and WWII Memorial. Along the way, many pictures were taken and many instagram posts were made of absolutely everything! The passion was beaming from their souls. It was so powerful, strangers took note and smiled as we passed.

We also visited the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum where we watched the IMAX Journey to Space.


Next was the Natural History Museum and it was, by far, the highlight of the trip. We explored all floors, took lots of pictures and everyone was free to explore at their leisure, including a pit stop to pick up souvenirs for family and friends.

By this point, the time was drawing near to check in at the USPTO (The U.S. Patent Trademark Office). So we headed back to the hotel where we had bit of time to rest before we needed to collect the inventions and head to the there. After, the young inventors practiced their pitches and then got some shut eye.

Then, it was Saturday. THE day. Our team of young innovators proceeded on their own, without parents or chaperones, to the judging floor where they remained until after their pitch.

Amaya pitched her idea for backpack reflectors to increase safety for kids riding bicycles at night.

Jayna pitched her idea for a rescue vehicle with an extra axle, attached “jaws of life” and even a bed to get to injured parties when they’re off the beaten path.

Ethan pitched his idea for a K-Cup hydroponics system (which works!).

Denzyl pitched his idea to help basketball players achieve the perfect shot.

Katie pitched her idea to conserve the precious commodity of ice cream, preventing it from dripping all over the consumer and/or their surroundings.

The results? While Florida did not win any prizes, these young inventors were awarded the honor of best behavior for their superior sportsmanship.  Once winners were announced, several other youth shed tears, were mean toward the winners and there were even some tantrums. But these Florida inventors congratulated the winners and were excited to connect and share about this amazing experience for which they were so grateful.

While the Florida team did not bring home the prize, they still brought home the glory because they know the journey matters more than the destination.

However, their destinations lie far into the future and NICEE2016 is just the beginning.