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CREC Students to Compete at National Youth Inventor Event

(Hartford, Conn.) Budding young inventors from three CREC schools are traveling to the National Invention Convention and Entrepreneurship Exposition (NICEE) in Dearborn, Michigan to display their inventions at the Henry Ford Museum from May 31 to June 2. The CREC students represent Discovery Academy in Wethersfield, Two Rivers Magnet Middle School in East Hartford, and Montessori Magnet School in Hartford. Two second grade students from the University of Hartford Magnet School in West Hartford will submit their inventions online. These aspiring entrepreneurs each won their local, regional, and state competitions to compete against the nation’s top student inventors at this invitation-only event.

NICEE is an annual celebration for young inventors and entrepreneurs to display their critical thinking skills through inventing, innovating, and entrepreneurial activities. The organization’s goal is to inspire tomorrow’s youth by creating a national showcase for those whose efforts embody America’s inventive and entrepreneurial spirit. It’s the youth equivalent of the Intel Science and Engineering Fair. NICEE is the marquee event of The STEMIE (STEM + Invention + Entrepreneurship) Coalition. The STEMIE Coalition is a new initiative that emerged from the principles of Connecticut’s 33-year-old Invention Convention that has expanded to 20 states. It was founded to elevate K-12 invention and entrepreneurship education to a national level, share best practices, evaluate programs, and provide national data demonstrating that invention and entrepreneurship are important parts of student learning and development, and lead to future innovators.

This year, more than 17,000 Connecticut students competed in the Invention Convention. There were 979 inventors from CREC schools. Of these, 94 went on to the regional competition, 46 made it to the state finals, and 12 are going to the national event.

Five student entrepreneurs from CREC Discovery Academy will compete at Nationals. They are Catherine Webster, grade 4, Wethersfield; Namyanzi Edwards, grade 5, New Britain; Sydney Hartley, grade 3, South Windsor; Vaibhav Satishraj, grade 5, South Windsor; and Grace Foster, grade 3, Ellington. Among their inventions are Webster’s “Adaptable Sleeves, Satishraj’s "Baby Saver," a high-tech system that warns parents that their baby is still in its car seat, and Foster’s "The Handy Helper," a hands-free umbrella/backpack.

“This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and one that will impact the students in a powerful way,” said Clare Neseralla, theme coach at CREC Discovery Academy. “I am thrilled to have our students represent Connecticut and bring national attention to CREC schools and the amazing work we do with students.”

Seventh grade inventors from Two Rivers Magnet Middle School are Kaitlyn Capacea, Vernon; Amber Braga, East Hartford; and Michael Shoemaker, Colchester. Capacea’s invention is a "Motorized Solar Water Filter," Braga’s is an "All-in-one Dog Walker," and Shoemaker’s is a "Snowboard Trainer."

“I love the fact that the students can be creative problem-solvers, regardless of their ability,” said Christie Hazen, Two Rivers’ invention coordinator and judge. “The inventions are their ideas."

Dr. Antonio Napoleone, principal of CREC Montessori Magnet School, agreed. “A great aspect of the Invention Convention is that it enables our students to turn their classroom learning into practical application,” he said. “Students had to use their ability to think critically, develop creative solutions, problem solve, and communicate effectively.”

Representing Montessori Magnet School are Sophia Pafundi, a lower elementary student from South Windsor, and McKenna Semeraro, an upper elementary student from Cromwell.

The University of Hartford Magnet School students who will submit their inventions online are Kathryn Ciccarelli from Windsor and Jarielys Orozco from Hartford.

“This opportunity for online competition provides the students the voice to communicate their passion for the solution to the defined problem and demonstrate how and why their invention is necessary for their intended audience, “said Terry Wilson, elementary science curriculum specialist for Magnet Schools. “In addition, the students are able to reflect on their work in an authentic way, both through their inventing process and the video pitch creation, just like real inventors and marketers do.”

Students and their chaperones are paying out-of-pocket for the majority of their trip. If you would like to make a donation to help offset their expenses, please contact the schools, drop off your donation at a school’s front desk, or contact Clare Neseralla at

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