Bringing Empathy to Invention
The Gates Invention and Innovation Program finished its 18th year in 2018, and the competition’s directors say empathy played a key role in the development of unique and useful inventions.
Empathy is in fact the genesis of design thinking, according to co-director Andy Dodge. He says, “To better understand a situation and to see where improvements can be made, one has to ‘see’ the problem from multiple perspectives, and ask questions to clarify and guide the decisions that lead to new solutions.”
Inventors took these concepts to heart during the concept and design segments of the program. Sloane Thompson (5) developed a self-medication system that allows multiple sclerosis patients to have more independence. Twins Max and Amelia Birner (6) looked at ways to make outdoor staircases safer. Millie Brophy (8) devised a shower system that filters out parasites found in the bathing water of many third world countries. And eighth grader Grace Dale won an award for designing a biodegradable, environmentally-friendly fish hook.
On competition day, excitement levels were high as student inventors rose to the occasion, presenting their invention journeys to eager guests including judges, parents, teachers and students. We’re proud of the work, dedication and learning that each inventor demonstrated throughout the duration of the program and look forward to seeing how their innovation skills continue to develop at Graland.
2018 Competition Winners
5/6 Division1st Place: Cayla Wolf and Remy Wolkov (Tod-lock 2.0)
2nd Place: Graham Judge and Marco Rust (The Fire Pack)
3rd Place: Camille Cummings (Locker Pouch)
Honorable Mention: Charlotte Corkins and Eve Weiner (Hand to Heart)
1st Place: Maria Romo-Nichols and Elle Morris (Code Style)
2nd Place: Elena Abarca (Vent Buddy)
3rd Place: Grace Dale (Bio-Hook)