In a world where innovation is the driving force behind progress, it's inspiring to witness young minds stepping up to the plate and reshaping the landscape of education. The 2023 Invent Oregon competition showcased an array of remarkable individuals and projects that are not only making learning accessible but also integrating STEM into play, effectively transforming education into a captivating journey of discovery and excitement.
At the heart of the 2023 Invent Oregon finals lies a project that perfectly embodies the notion that learning can be both enlightening and enjoyable: Learn to Play from Willamette University.
“There’s a giant stigma around STEM being this hard, difficult, arduous thing. And I think a lot of that could be removed if we change the way that we approach it and teach it at an early age” says Rebekah Bond. Bond along with Sarah Diamond, Jon Kirk, and Riley Schweizer are bioengineering graduates and the founders of this inventive approach to inspired education. Learn to Play is on a mission to construct science playgrounds that serve as immersive learning environments for children. By blending scientific concepts with interactive play structures, Learn to Play offers a novel approach to education—one that's both enjoyable and informative. They are inspiring more than young learners, the crowd also showed their love by naming them “People’s Choice”.
This project not only promotes active learning but also paves the way for accessible education, breaking down barriers that hinder the learning process for diverse groups of children. Tomorrow's scientists, inspired by play today.
Another incredible project that emerged from this year's competition is LearnSesh.
In the age of technological advancement, virtual reality has emerged as a powerful tool in education, and "LearnSesh" is harnessing that potential to transform middle school science education. LearnSesh is a virtual reality education platform designed to break down complex science concepts through an interactive and immersive experience. “That’s our sole mission right now, is to help all students regardless of their different learning styles and needs, to get them to where they need to be.” says Isaiah Weiss, computer science major at Umpqua Community College and co-founder of LearnSesh.
The beauty of LearnSesh lies in its ability to transport students beyond the confines of a traditional classroom. It turns abstract theories into tangible experiences, bridging the gap between theoretical knowledge and real-world applications. With LearnSesh, difficult subjects are no longer daunting challenges but exciting adventures waiting to be explored. This incredible project also took home two awards, Outstanding Community College and 3rd Place overall.
As the curtain closes on another groundbreaking Invent Oregon competition, it's clear that the future of education is evolving in fascinating ways. Projects like "Learn to Play" and "LearnSesh" demonstrate that learning doesn't have to be confined to textbooks and classrooms. When education is infused with playfulness and innovation, students are more likely to develop a lifelong love for learning, and aspire to become the innovators of tomorrow.
Invent Oregon continues to inspire and empower student innovators to push the boundaries of what's possible in education. By embracing accessibility, innovation, and the integration of STEM concepts into play, we're shaping a world where learning is not just a necessity, but a thrilling adventure that knows no bounds. So, here's to the young minds who are transforming education, one innovative idea at a time—may their creativity continue to spark a brighter future for us all.