On the eve of his 16th birthday, Greyson McCluskey from Indian Trail was named the national winner of Wouldn’t It Be Cool If…, a contest jointly presented by Time Warner Cable’s philanthropic science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) initiative, Connect a Million Minds, and i.am FIRST, founded by artist, entertainer and entrepreneur will.i.am. The contest challenged youth ages 10 - 15 to dream up the coolest idea to make their life, community or the world more awesome, and then to think about how science and math could help bring those ideas to life.
McCluskey, an honor student and aspiring architect, developed his Baby Safe Rider – a mechanism for toddler car seats that would detect elevated temperatures in babies – as a way to address incidents of vehicular hyperthermia fatalities in the U.S. McCluskey stated he was inspired to create the Baby Safe Rider after the recent birth of his cousin Annabelle. He entered the Wouldn’t It Be Cool If… contest after his mom saw the campaign commercial featuring Black Eyed Peas artist will.i.am.
”I still can’t believe I won,” said McCluskey. “Time Warner Cable’s Wouldn’t It Be Cool if… contest has changed my life – from meeting will.i.am to winning the opportunity to travel to New York City to have my idea developed by Fahrenheit 212. I truly hope my story and those of the other finalists inspire kids just like us to have the confidence to share their own cool ideas with the world.”
McCluskey was selected along with three other finalists to present their ideas at the Wouldn’t It Be Cool If… final event in St. Louis, held on-site at the FIRST Robotics Championship in front of a live audience of nearly 1,400 youth and supporters. McCluskey was voted the winner by a panel of prestigious judges that included Jasmin Hume, PhD candidate at Polytechnic Institute of NYU; Dean Kamen, esteemed inventor and founder of FIRST; Mark Payne, co-founder and President of Fahrenheit 212; and will.i.am, artist and STEM advocate.
“Greyson, the finalists and more than 1,100 youth who entered great ideas proved that kids really do have ideas that can change the world that are based upon math and science skills,” said will.i.am. “Now that Greyson has been selected as the winner of Wouldn’t It Be Cool If…, I’m looking to him to inspire even more students to get involved and excited about math and science.”
As the national winner, McCluskey now receives the ultimate prize: the opportunity to bring his idea to life. He will collaborate with Fahrenheit 212, one of the nation’s pre-eminent innovation consulting firms that works with global companies and brands to develop and bring to market industry – or world – changing ideas. The Fahrenheit 212 team will work with McCluskey over the next four months to refine his cool idea, develop a business model and strategy, and explore how to bring the Baby Safe Rider to market. Ultimately, McCluskey will have the opportunity to present his idea to prospective investors.
“The Fahrenheit 212 team is incredibly excited to share the insights and expertise we use with leading global companies with the national winner of Wouldn’t It Be Cool If…,” commented Mark Payne. “How cool is it that at the end of our process, the national winner will have seen their idea become so much more real, as a product and a business plan, with the ability to attract actual investors for their idea.”
The additional three finalists and their ideas included:
- Kayla Benson (12) from Topeka, Kansas – The i-Stand, an electronic music stand that has your sheet music loaded on a screen with apps that include a tuner, metronome, and recorder.
- Hannah Yusoff (15) and Hon Kwok (15) from Westlake, Ohio – Bone Analyzer Kit, a digital device that can detect body injuries through blood samples.
- Emmie Lopez (12), Eileen Figueroa (12) and Jaime Brens (12) from Bronx, New York – A to Zinc Coffee, a filter that adds vitamins and nutrients to your coffee.
Time Warner Cable has committed more than $100 million to addressing America’s declining proficiency in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) through Connect a Million Minds, which aims to connect a million more students to hands-on, out-of-school science opportunities. Launched as part of President Obama’s “Educate to Innovate” campaign in November 2009, the campaign has encouraged more than 420,000 parents and other adults to pledge to connect a child to STEM education. To learn more about Connect a Million Minds, visit www.connectamillionminds.com.
“Wouldn’t It Be Cool If… is a powerful program to build on our commitment to youth and STEM, Connect a Million Minds,” commented Glenn Britt, Chairman and CEO, Time Warner Cable. “Through Wouldn’t It Be Cool If…, we have reached new youth audiences and forged new partners with organizations like i.am FIRST, Fahrenheit 212 and the Boys & Girls Club of America. We are so proud that we have played a direct role in helping more than 1,000 youth discover the power of STEM subjects.”
Building on this comment, Tessie Topol, Senior Director of Strategic Philanthropy for Time Warner Cable, said, “Wouldn’t It Be Cool If… shows that when individuals and organizations invested in our nation’s effort to promote STEM education come together, they can leverage their respective networks to make greater and deeper impact. While only Greyson can be our winner, we hope that all the kids who participated realize that their own creativity and imagination, when combined with math and science, are powerful tools to make a positive difference, and that even more kids will be excited to engage in math and science by their example.”