Youth Design Inventions for a Better World—and Get Some Worldly Advice

Student Voice

Youth Design Inventions for a Better World—and Get Some Worldly Advice

By Mansi Patadia     Jul 24, 2017

Youth Design Inventions for a Better World—and Get Some Worldly Advice

Where in New York City can you meet students from all five boroughs who have amazing notions on how to make our world a better place for everyone?

You heard that right. It’s Emoti-Con, the most spectacular event of the year, filled with amazing inventions and a chance to meet students who share an interest in creating with technology and making positive change.

Emoti-Con 2017 had close to 300 attendees last month, including youth, educators, and others passionate about giving young people opportunities to make a positive impact in our world.

The event began with a group challenge to “create an ideal city” using plastic cups, LED lights, pipe cleaners, and pompoms. This was an awesome way to start off the event and everyone enjoyed every bit of it.

Our first keynote presentation was from Tina Kang, tech enthusiast from SUNY: Maritime College. Tina spoke about her college career and gave helpful advice on how to become successful even if you and your family are immigrants. Tina migrated from Asia at the age of 18 to attend college.

This was very meaningful to me, as I will be entering college this fall. My parents are immigrants from India and faced many difficulties when they arrived here. Even though I am not an immigrant, applying to college was very difficult because my parents had no clue about the process, and it took us a lot of time and research to understand it. I can relate to many of the things Tina went through.

Then, it was time for lunch, which is everyone’s favorite part of the day—at least I know it is mine.

After lunch, we had the chance to network with the Emoti-Con judges who accomplished great things in their lives coming from completely different backgrounds. We also learned the types of courses we should take in college for a wide variety of careers.

Then, it was time for the Emoti-Con competition to begin! As part of the Mouse Design League, our team presented the project we created to help people with disabilities. I was thrilled to show everyone what our team created and it was amazing to see how many people were interested in learning about our project.

Our team designed a project called “Locus,” a wearable device for individuals with nonverbal disabilities to help caregivers ensure the safety of their clients. We came up with this name as a team using the Latin term for location. We interviewed two clients, Bernard and Anders, who have cerebral palsy, are nonverbal, and do not know sign language at all, which makes it very difficult for them to communicate with people like you and me.

To design our project, we asked many questions of the caregivers, including, “What is the most difficult thing you face once you leave the facility with the client?” We learned that caregivers often get separated from their clients and that it can be very difficult to find one another. With Locus, the caregiver receives a text message from the client's’ device; it is linked to Google Maps and shows the client’s exact location.

At Emoti-Con, our prototype worked perfectly and we were able to present the final product to our clients Bernard and Andres. This was a big accomplishment and the most memorable part of Emoti-Con for my team!

Presenting to the judges was nerve-wracking at first, but speaking about the process of designing our project was the best. All of the presenters were able to show off their capabilities and talk about their projects from the very beginning to the end. Everyone who created inventions shined as bright as a star during this time period.

Next, we had another amazing keynote speaker, Kweighbaye Kotee, Founder & CEO of Bushwick Film Festival (BFF) and host/creator of Indie Cinema New York (ICNY). She also came from an immigrant family. Kweighbaye told us not give up on anything we want to accomplish. There will always be ups and downs, but giving up is never an option. This was very motivating advice and helped everyone feel confident about their inventions.

Many projects were recognized with awards at Emoti-Con, including:

  • Best Pitch: Onagawa Neighborhood Quest, Global Kids
  • Point Of View: Salvage Adaptable Clothing, Mouse Design League
  • Most Social Impact: Help Me, Girls Who Code
  • Most Entertaining: Dance and Technology: Lights, Camera, Action!, STEM From Dance
  • Most Innovative: PROJΣCT S.I.G.M.A., Stephen A. Halsey Middle School
  • Crowd Favorite: Girls Hack, Global Kids

Emoti-Con was filled with many different inventions that can make a major difference in the lives of others. I met students from different schools and learned about their projects and the motivation that helped them achieve their goal. Everyone had different stories and experiences that led them to their inventions, which addressed issues ranging from challenges facing people with disabilities to equal rights for women,

The 9th Annual Emoti-Con was a huge success. I would like to thank everyone at Mouse for giving me such an amazing opportunity to help people with disabilities and to make a difference in our world.

Special thanks to this year’s organizers, including Mouse, Mozilla Foundation, Hive Research Lab, The New York Public Library and Parsons School of Design for making this event possible. I look forward to attending the 10th Emoti-Con next year!

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