Meet the winners of the Ant-Man Micro-Tech Challenge and their cool inventions

Marvel’s Ant-Man Micro-Tech Challenge kicked off this year from May 21 to June 11. No, the challenge was not to shrink things, but to use at least one inexpensive, easy to buy micro-tech component in a do-it-yourself project, and it was open to girls aged 14 to 18 as a way to encourage their STEM interests. Part of the submission includes videos showing off their projects and explaining what makes them inspire other young girls to get into science, technology, engineering, and math.

Sponsored by Marvel, Visa, Dolby Labs, and Rasberry Pi, the winners got a trip to Hollywood to attend the red-carpet world premiere of Marvel’s Ant-Man June 29. The next day, they got to meet with Walt Disney Imagineers when they participated in “The Evolution of Technology” workshop at Disneyland, and a behind the scenes trip around the Disneyland resort, and a tour of Walt Disney Studios.

Back in the winners’ home towns, the Ant-Man Challenge organizers will provide build instructions for the winning projects to a local STEM program. The winners will have the chance to lead a workshop showing off the project to her local community. Five girls were chosen for their ingenuity.

Maxine Hartnett, an 18-year-old from Boulder, Colorado, made a sound-actuated lantern using PWM pins to alter LED light levels. It can change color and blink in time to music. As an easy DIY, she thinks building it will give girls just getting started with STEM a confidence boost.

Elizabeth Almasy, a 17-year-old from Durham, North Carolina, made an octopus-shaped automated bubble blower. Completing this project required work with servos and micro-controllers. Her project’s message to other girls is that science can, in fact, be fun.

Sixteen-year-old Ashita Patel form Columbus, Georgia, built a robotic arm that draws computer images. She considers her project a beginning of the integration of art and design in to STEM, which could make science, technology, engineering, and math interesting to more girls.

Anna Nixon of Portland, Oregon, turned a teddy bear into an interactive toy that would put Teddy Ruxpin to shame. The new teddy has face detection and voice recognition, and uses a graphical interface. This 14-year-old wants to add real-time health detection features with the intention of using it with kids who are scared by visits to the doctor.

Allison White, a 16-year-old from Kaysville, Utah, invented a smart showerhead with a water usage limiter. The showerhead notifies the showerer when they go over their water usage by lighting up a ring of color-coded lights around the head. This is an obviously useful invention to most of the residents of California and throughout the world as water scarcity increases.

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