Photo Credit Jan Garrison
Top three qualifiy for The Next Launch
March 16, 2018

A smartphone application that would help spur the interests of students in the STEM fields was the winner of the Miclot Business Competition at Culver Academies Sunday afternoon.

STEM Shot, proposed by brothers Harrison ’18 and Corbin Steck ’20 (DeCatur, Illinois), would let students and teachers use their smartphones to complete assignments and spur discussions about the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math.

The Stecks’ proposal earned them the top prize of $5,000 and the opportunity to move on to The Next Launch on May 16 in Fishers, Indiana. They will be joined by first runner-up Lucas Carroll ’18 (Grand Beach, Michigan) and his business idea, Stay Connected; and second runner-up Call Secure by John Wakeland ’19 (Austin, Texas), Crawford Frutkin ’19 (Cincinnati, Ohio), and Caleb Barrett ’20 (South Bend, Indiana).

The Next Launch will feature 24 entries from eight schools in Indiana and Illinois. The top prize will be $25,000. It is sponsored by The Ron Rubin School for the Entrepreneur.

STEM Shot works on three levels. The first is STEM Cell, which is an individual, such as shooting a photo that explains a scientific concept. The individual photo can be shared with the class, known as the Brain STEM, the Stecks explained. The next level would be the BiosySTEM, which could be the entire school or a larger community.

The concept is to get students thinking about how science, technology, engineering, and math works in their daily lives. By asking students to shoot photos and explain how they demonstrate the assigned principles/concepts, it helps students and instructors understand those concepts.

The photos shot can be shared with the class, school, and others to help spread the basic knowledge surrounding STEM principles and concepts. This would, in turn, help spark interest in these fields, they said.

The brothers said the need is there, as well as the means to promote the concept. Nearly three million STEM-related jobs are unfilled at this time. At the same time, 72.4 percent of the population has a smartphone.

Lucas Carroll’s Stay Connected would allow acquaintances to reconnect without going through social media channels. By using email and/or texts, people could meet for lunch or dinner while they are in town. Facebook and other social apps have become too cumbersome, he said. Plus, up to 63 percent of young adults say they are either taking or planning to take a break from social media.

Stay Connected streamlines how people like Culver classmates can contact each other. People would register. The application would show what city they live in and provide a phone number for texting and an email address. It would not provide a street address. Visitors to that city/region would then be able to contact their friends while they are in town.

The system would be quicker than Facebook and people would just simply have to keep their information up to date if they move, he said. Carroll’s concept received $1,000 and will also move on to The Next Launch.

Second runner-up went to Call Secure, a mobile application that would filter phone calls coming from numbers not already contained in a person’s address list. Wakeland, Frutkin, and Barrett said the concept would block unwanted calls while still allowing others to come through by asking two simple questions. The answers would then be sent via text and the person receiving the call could decide whether or not to pick up.

The actual process of answering the questions and transmitting the answers would take 15 to 30 seconds, they explained. This would allow such callers like a child calling a mother on a friend’s phone to get through quickly. But if it was a robocall or telemarketer, it would give the person the option of blocking that phone number.

As second runner-up, Call Secure received $500 and also moves on to The Next Launch.

Other entries included Ascend by first classmen Ved Mehta (Bourbonnais, Illinois) and Charles Mahoney (Cummings, Georgia); EasyGreen from George Cruickshank ’18 (Anchorage, Alaska); Eco by senior Michelle Behshid (Saugus, California) and sophomore Madeline Petrucelli (Plymouth, Indiana); Navi by senior Rebecca Sun (Overland Park, Kansas) and second classman Ethan Barangan (Plainfield, Illinois); and RecoverBox by Will LeVan ’18 (Newton, Kansas).

A total of 18 business concepts were originally offered, Alex Kurrellmeier ’83, director of The Ron Rubin School for the Entrepreneur, said, with these eight entries selected to present. Tim Rice, one of the judges with John R. MacLennan N’54 and Noreen Cagle ’85, said they “were very inspired” by the concepts and it was difficult make a decision.

Andy and Sharlene Miclot, the past parents who established the fund for the business competition, came to listen to the presentations. Celebrating the competition’s 10th year, Mr. Miclot said they wanted to start the competition to “spark ideas” in Culver students. They were impressed by what they heard. Adding, “We so appreciate what you have accomplished over the past 10 years.”

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