Students' Ideas to Reduce Injuries and Fatalities From Home Fires Awarded $150,000 in Youth Innovation Competition

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Students' ideas to reduce injuries and fatalities from home fires win $150,000 in the Paradigm Challenge, one of the largest youth innovation competitions in the world. The Grand Prize was awarded to the "Fire Mitt," an oven mitt that unfolds into a fire blanket to put out cooking fires.

Paradigm Challenge Winners

We believe in the power of our youth to help us solve the world's problems.

Over 15,000 people are injured or killed in home fires in the United States every year, making home fires America's #1 disaster threat. Students aged 7-18 years old from all over the United States and around the world studied this problem and came up with ideas to reduce injuries and fatalities. The 100 best ideas won a total of $150,000 in cash in The Paradigm Challenge, a global innovation competition to inspire young people to solve real-world problems.

"We believe in the power of our youth to help us solve the world’s problems," explained Jeff Richardson, Project Paradigm's founder and CEO. "They look at things from a different perspective than adults and are not inclined to accept 'this won't work' as an answer. The Grand Prize-winning “Fire Mitt” illustrates that youth have an innate sense of innovating for good."

The Fire Mitt invented by Grand Prize winners Emma Spencer and Scott Johnson of Bothell, Washington, is an oven mitt that quickly and easily unfolds into a fire blanket. The fire blanket is placed over the cooking fire, smothering it. "It's such an obvious idea," noted Spencer, "We couldn't believe no one had thought of it yet." Spencer and Scott won $50,000, along with an all-expense-paid patent application for the Fire Mitt.

Over 50,000 students participated in this year's inaugural Paradigm Challenge. Student solutions included inventions, community events, mobile apps, videos, posters, and songs. The top three winners in each of the age groups were:

Ages 7-10
1st:    Fire prevention video, by Jacob, Joey, and Julia Shanahan of Uniontown, Ohio
2nd: Educational fire safety app, by Ishani Sood and Natasha Rajaram of Los Gatos, California
3rd: Cooking fire prevention devices, by Mark, Gary, and Barbara Leschinsky of Mahwah, New Jersey

Ages 11-14
1st:    Fire detection and escape system, by Shubhanshi and Hitanshi Gaudani of India, and Tulsi and Om Lathia of New Zealand
2nd: Safety mask to reduce smoke inhalation, by Pranshu Suri of Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania
3rd: Device for the bottom of doors to cover gap and reduce smoke inhalation, by Morgan Gibbs of Lewis Center, Ohio

Ages 15-18
1st: Oven mitt that unfolds into fire blanket to put out cooking fires, by Emma Spencer and Scott Johnson of Bothell, Washington
2nd: Pop-up lint filter to prevent dryer fires, by Kyle Sitkins of Traverse City, Michigan
3rd: Escape device for injured/elderly/disabled, by Angel Scott, Dylan Mead, Devon Mead, and Jonni Deakins of Mead, Washington

In addition to these awards, The Paradigm Challenge also awarded $6,600 to the ten Finalist ideas that garnered the most votes during the Public Voting Contest. The top Public Choice winners were:

1st: Stuffed animals that alert and direct children when there is a fire, by Anna Ashley, Sarah Wexler, and Elizabeth DiTullio of Middleton, Wisconsin.
2nd: Bracelet/watched programmed to alert hearing impaired of smoke alarm, by Aubrey Ault of Prairie Grove, Arkansas and Reese Light of Farmington, Arkansas.
3rd: Bracelet that controls appliances and contacts fire department, by Jayla Rivers of Brooklyn, New York, Benigno Millo and Justin Victor of Hollis, New York, and Audrey Agbato, Shyann Moss, and Keidy Espinoza of Queens Village, New York.

The Paradigm Challenge has announced the topic for the 2017 competition: reduction of waste. The deadline for entries is May 1, 2017. Students aged 4-18 are challenged to create new ideas to reduce waste in homes, schools, communities, and around the world. Student solutions can include inventions, community events, mobile apps, videos, posters, songs, and anything else that will help. Free lesson plan videos and resources are available. Teachers can win up to $5,000 and students can win up to $100,000. The top three teams also win a trip to Los Angeles, California for a fun-filled weekend and black-tie awards ceremony.

About The Paradigm Challenge: The Paradigm Challenge is a new annual competition created by Project Paradigm in collaboration with the American Red Cross and supported by a coalition of partners, including Youth Changing the World and the National Youth Leadership Council. The theme of the competition will change annually.

About Project Paradigm
Project Paradigm, a national private foundation headquartered in Los Angeles, California, aims to identify, support, and collaborate with passionate individuals and organizations to inspire, lead, and facilitate paradigm shifts in the approaches to global challenges. Learn more at Or like us on Facebook and Twitter (@ParadigmChlleng).

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Michelle Lewis
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