Summit seniors’ idea for biodegradable gum wins annual Inventerprise contest

A pair of Summit High School seniors won first place in Lonza’s 29th annual Inventerprise Science Contest, coming up with a plan for biodegradable gum.

The first-place prize of $1,000 for High School was split by the team of Summit High School Seniors Tanner Taylor and Owen Wheary for their invention of a new “Jum: Gum Reimagined.”

Taylor and Wheary’s new gum formulation is biodegradable, utilizing an enzyme activated by air to help the gum more quickly dissolve when littered on the ground.

This year Central Oregon students were given the challenge of inventing something to handle the problem of “messes.”

More than 330 students entered the contest this year.

“I was excited to see the creative entries and dedication to the contest through the 100% virtual format,” said Dory Koehler-King, Inventerprise Contest Director. “This year’s topic was open to many problem statements and solutions. I am pleased with the energy and creative thinking that went into the entries this year.”

Summit Junior Teaghan Knox and Senior Christopher Bird tied for second place.

Knox invented an “UltraGer System” that combined Mongolian house design with features like insulation and solar power to reduce air pollution.

Bird invented a “Vehicular Emissions Capture Apparatus” which would store emissions from vehicle combustion for later treatment at a collection site when fueling up.

The Middle School First Place winner was Sky Knox, a 6th grader who won a Mountain Bike for her invention of “Traffic Wind Turbine Rollers”, which combines safety features of guardrails (to avoid messy crashes) and harnesses energy from passing vehicles to create wind energy (avoiding emissions from energy generation).

Eight other entries were recognized as winners in the Middle School category and will receive specially designed T-shirts.

Twenty-two student winners in grades K-5 will receive specially designed T-shirts.

Examples of innovative winning projects from elementary school winners are listed below:

• A kindergartner invented a machine to fix messy hair.
• A first-grader designed a vessel to collect trash from the ocean, using currents to help collect the trash and shaped his invention like a hammerhead shark.
• A crafty second grader made a model of a drone that would map a house and spray high traffic surfaces with antiviral disinfectant.
• A third-grader created a rain gutter that filters cleans and turns rain into drinking water.
• A fourth invented a “bubble” that cleans and filters air emissions.
• An inventive fifth-grader invented “Vanishing Glitter” made of salt that dissolves once contacted with water.

Teachers in grades K-5 whose classes had above-average participation were eligible for the Tina McGeary Teacher Incentive Program.

This program will distribute at least $2,000 in gift certificates among area teachers for classroom supplies or books.

The program is named in memory of Tina McGeary, an Inventerprise contest founder and unflagging advocate of the work that teachers do for the community.

The Inventerprise Contest began in 1992 as an outgrowth of a business-education partnership between Bend Research (now a part of Lonza) and Bend-La Pine Schools to promote science education and enrich students’ educational experience.

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