SOUTHINGTON — Earlier this year, local resident Jill White was looking for ways to introduce more STEM activities to her daughters. She never expected a project she started with her family would be chosen for a national invention contest.
Jill and Joseph White entered the My Dreamvention contest by Frito-Lay with daughters Audrey, 7, and Mia, 5. Jill White said the family submitted an idea for an alarm that lets parents know when children are too close to a hot stove. Jill White said the idea behind the “Kid Safe Switch” came from her kitchen.
“We were trying to find a problem to solve,” she said. “I’m always yelling about staying away from the stove...we thought it was kind of a light bulb moment.”
The family submitted the idea and later worked with Frito-Lay to develop a prototype.
“It’s a body heat sensor that senses somebody over a certain height,” Jill White said. “When the stove is hot [and a child walks by] an alarm goes off and a light flashes.”
According to a press release by Pepsi, the parent company of Frito-Lay, the five finalists were chosen from thousands of families across America. The grand prize is $250,000.
“One family’s invention idea could be another family’s long-awaited solution to a problem they face everyday,” the press release said.
Jill White was surprised when she learned her family’s invention was chosen out of thousands of entries.
“Never in a million years did I think we would have been noticed in the entire country,” she said.
The family traveled to Los Angeles in September to meet the other four finalists and learn more about the contest. The family saw the prototype and participated in a photoshoot, meeting actress Cobie Smulders, from the show “How I Met Your Mother.”
“It’s been surreal,” Jill White said. “Nothing big like this has ever happened to us. [The girls] think they’re movie stars.”
She has been rallying members of the community to vote by visiting mydreamvention.com. Voting ends Jan. 6.
“We are going to keep working like we are going to win,” Jill White said. “We think the idea is great.”
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