oboro apollo hs 300OWENSBORO, Ky. (4/2/2013) – On Thursday, March 14, Apollo High School juniors Blake Knott and Dalton Nonweiler competed at the University of Kentucky in an Intellectual Property Pitch, a five-minute presentation to a panel of entrepreneurs and experts about a unique, creative solution to a problem followed by a five-minute question-answer session with the Judges. Knott and Nonweiler had to formally pitch their invention idea to a panel of judges comprised of a business executive, a business professor, a chamber of commerce leader, and a millionaire investor.

The team’s Invention and Patent idea is titled “Easy Squeezey Ear Plugs.” The premise behind the invention is to take old ear phones and modify them with the moldable ear plugs found in most industrial factories so the ear buds will not fall out of one’s ears as easily. The students said they came up with the idea for the invention when their current set of ear bud headphones broke and no long would fit in their ear. Although the team didn’t win the prize money, they said they are still excited about the idea.

“Even though we didn’t win, it’s not that big of a deal. We are still going to keep working on our idea and go back next year,” Knott said.

Nonweiler also said that he didn’t believe losing was a huge loss at this time.

“The judges gave us several pointers. We kind of know what to expect when we go back next year,” he said.

Apollo High School Technology Educator Aaron Yeiser has served as the students mentor and guide throughout the process.

“They guys are bettering their product design at this time,” Yeiser said. Currently they were doing competitor research and they plan to work on this and other designs again next fall in their senior year at Apollo.”

This is Yeiser’s eleventh year at Apollo as a teacher, and his fifth year working with Project Lead the Way, a national non-profit organization that develops and disseminates sequenced pre-engineering curricula for use in middle schools, high schools, and community colleges. It also offers professional training for teachers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

The juniors had hoped to be able to present their patent and design process idea at Murray State University in April in hopes of competing for bigger prize money. Unfortunately, the Daviess County School System falls outside of Murray’s district, and Western Kentucky University, under whom the district would fall, does not offer a program that would allow the team to present their invention there.

Knott and Nonweiler said they intend to use their design to apply to the Governor’s School for Entrepreneurs in the near future. The Governor's School for Entrepreneurs (GSE) is an entrepreneurship program designed to give Kentucky high school students a hands-on opportunity to invent a product and create a business around it, according to the GSE website. GSE's mission is to give Kentucky High School students the keys to understanding how to turn their ideas into a product or service, and in turn inspire them to become business leaders in their communities.

Yeiser said despite the outcome at the recent competition, the two students have benefitted from the opportunity to participate.

“Even without taking top honors at the UK IP Pitch competition Blake and Dalton gained valuable worldly experience necessary to be future business leaders. I don't think it will have any bearing on their acceptance to GSE, but if they're accepted they'll have a better foundation of what to expect once they arrive,” he said.

Knott and Nonweiler said following their senior year, they both intend to further their education in an engineering course of study. Knott says he is considering Murray state, while Nonweiler intends to apply to the engineering program at the University of Kentucky.

Alex Reid
SurfKY News
Photos provided by Alex Reid

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