Students debut inventions with Connected Lane County’s STEM program

Youth showing off their invention at the 2023 Invention Lab Showcase

Students from Connected Lane County’s Invention Lab debuted “wearable tech” creations on Friday, July 21, at Spark on 7th.

Connected Lane County’s Invention Lab program is four weeks, with two weeks of instruction and two weeks of students developing their inventions. Students were able to use 3D printers, vinyl and laser cutters, coding, programming and more with freedom to pursue their own ideas.

“We got to decide exactly what we wanted to do with this invention,” said Tau Soeby, a rising sophomore at Churchill, who helped create the invention “Drink Time.” “Some people offered pointers, like, ‘here’s how you can do this.’ But nobody told us ‘no, you can’t do that,’ and I thought that was pretty cool.”

Inventions ranged from a water bottle device that tell users how long it’s been since they last took a drink to customized jackets that detect body heat and humidity.

This is Connected Lane County’s third year running the Invention Lab summer program with three cohorts in Eugene, Cottage Grove and Springfield. About 75 students in Lane County will have participated in the program when it wraps up next month.

One of Connected Lane County’s main focuses is offering STEM opportunities to students that wouldn’t normally have access to them, such as students from more rural communities, students of color and students from lower-income households.

Executive director Heidi Larwick said the nonprofit works with youth groups and school leaders to identify good candidates for their programs.

“We’re trying to reach young people who are furthest from STEM opportunities,” Larwick said.

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