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Middle School Students to Attend Invention Convention, 4-H@UMaine

More than 100 middle school students from across the state will be at the University of Maine this weekend taking part in the Maine Invention Convention state competition and 4-H@UMaine event.

The Maine Invention Convention is a statewide competition promoting important life and work skills for Maine middle school students, according to the competition’s website.

“The competition challenges students to identify real-world problems they can solve by inventing,” says Angela Marcolini, innovation engineering outreach coordinator and instructor at UMaine’s Foster Center for Student Innovation. “Students are encouraged to focus on the innovation process more than the final product.”

The event is open to any Maine student in grades six through eight and takes the place of a traditional science fair. Throughout the school year, students identify and solve problems by using a four-step, systematic approach to innovation, the website states.

The students compete at a local level to determine who will attend the state competition at UMaine where they will be judged on categories related to innovation engineering, Marcolini says.

Around 80 students from 11 schools, as well as a few who are home-schooled, are expected to arrive at the New Balance Student Recreation Center starting at 8 a.m. Saturday, May 18.

The students will display their projects from 9 a.m. to noon and will be judged during that time. In the afternoon, the students, along with family and friends, will have the opportunity to attend 4-H@UMaine workshops and take a campus tour before the 4 p.m. awards ceremony.

The top three students in each grade will be awarded a medallion, the top winner in each grade will receive a $50 savings certificate from Bangor Savings Bank, and the overall winner will receive an additional savings certificate and two tickets to TEDxDirigo GENERATE, a conference that aims to celebrate innovation and creativity in Maine.

A people’s choice and 4-H choice award will also be given.

The Maine Invention Convention competition is a collaboration between the Foster Center for Student Innovation, University of Maine Cooperative Extension and an Innovative Technology Experiences for Students and Teachers (ITEST) Grant from the National Science Foundation through Bruce Segee, UMaine associate professor of electrical and computer engineering.

The event has existed for more than 20 years and was previously run by school departments, Marcolini says. This is the first year UMaine is running the program.

For more information or to request disability accommodations, call Marcolini, 207.408.1993. Information is also available online.

The 4-H@UMaine event is open to students age 12–17 and offers a chance for them to become familiar with college life and what UMaine has to offer. Around 75 students from around the state are expected to attend this year’s event.

Students, who will come to campus at 3 p.m. Friday, May 17, will stay in dorm rooms, eat at dining halls and attend workshops by UMaine professors in a variety of subjects before leaving at 5:30 p.m. Saturday, May 18.

4-H@UMaine began in 2007 and is sponsored by the University of Maine Cooperative Extension with additional funding from the Maine 4-H Foundation and Bangor Savings Bank, according to Debra Kantor, UMaine Cooperative Extension educator.

“We’re very excited about partnering with the Foster Center for Student Innovation this year,” Kantor says.

For more information or to request disability accommodations, call Kantor, 207.474.9622. Information is also available online.

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