Student Entrepreneurs Display Their Big Ideas in Contest

What most intrigued State Senator Wendy Davis during the What’s Your Big Idea Art and Essay Entrepreneurship Contest Saturday was the shoe that changes colors with a touch of a button. For NBC 5 Reporter and emcee Mola Lenghi, it was the neat idea of taking his station anywhere with a foldable flat screen TV.

Arlington Mayor Pro Tempore Kathryn Wilmon’s favorite? A tie between the car gadget that locates street potholes and sends images to city engineers and a machine that folds clothes for you.

There were certainly enough ideas to go around during the annual entrepreneur day event held at Texas Hall on the UT Arlington campus on Saturday, March 31.  AISD students in grades 3rd through 6th were rewarded for their ingenuity and creativity of products they could sell or businesses they could create.

Sponsored by the Arlington Chamber of Commerce, AISD and the City of Arlington, 250 semifinalists were chosen out of 1300 entries with 24 students receiving Grand Prizes for landing in the top three among their grade peers in the art or essay competition.

Winners receive a season pass to Six Flags Over Texas, four box seat tickets to a Texas Rangers baseball game, a $50 game card to Alley Cats, scholarships to attend summer camps through the UT Arlington College of Engineering or the City of Arlington Parks and Recreation, and a May 1 field trip to the UT Arlington Planetarium. They also went home with nice shiny trophies.

“What I always tell these kids is that Bill Gates had some good ideas in the third grade, too,” said Arlington Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Wes Jury. “I let them know that the things they think about everyday could be the next big thing. Who knows unless you try?”

Randy Johnson, a sixth grader at Bob & Tillie Burgin Elementary, figured that since he was devouring Spider-Man comic books – and strengthening his vocabulary by reading them – others could, too. His idea:  start a publishing firm of educational comic books stressing math, reading and science skills.

Jury said the idea behind the Essay and Art Entrepreneurship Contest is to inject the entrepreneurial spirit into students early enough that the notion of starting a business isn’t intimidating.

“Our hope is that they do start businesses when they get older, and start them right here in Arlington,” Jury said. “That means more jobs for the people who live here and a stronger economy. That’s a win-win in my book.”

Another win-win, judging by audience applause, was Alisa Warren’s electronic sunglasses that keeps a photographic data base of your accessory items and, with the push of a button on the lens, literally picks out what accessory fits with an outfit.

How did the Lynn Hale Elementary Sixth Grader come up with that? “I imagine it all the time,” she said, “especially when I’m in the closet trying to see what to wear. So it was easy.”

By Ken Perkins