Empowering Communities

Students win big with innovative ideas

May 21, 2019

A digital playground, an automated public transportation sanitizer, and a system that immediately alerts people to nearby gun shots: These are three innovations that could make local communities safer and healthier.

And they are not a fantasy. For the past four months, high school students in Chicago’s Bronzeville neighborhood developed prototypes of these inventions that can benefit their communities. As part of ComEd’s Ideathon competition, the 15 teams pitched their ideas to a panel of judges, and three came out on top.

First Place:

Urban Prep Charter Academy students Akil Mohammad, Brandon Black and Alex Lindsay took neighborhood playgrounds to the next level with their innovation. Using smart sensors, the Digital Playground turns the normal neighborhood park into the park of the future. The playground allows for neighborhood signups, increased security, weather warnings and the ability to track attendance.

Second Place:

Young Women’s Leadership Charter School students Taneisha Spiller, Mykiah Jordan and Tynessa Spiller created a way to reduce germs on public transportation. CTA Sanitizer is a way to sanitize Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) vehicles to reduce the likelihood of contracting a disease and spreading it further. By using a timing device to distribute an aerial disinfectant onto buses, CTA Sanitizer will target the air people breathe and the surfaces they touch with disinfectant that eliminates germs.

Third Place: 

Young Women’s Leadership Charter School students Imani Smith, Sydney Cason and Glenisha White developed an innovation that will increase safety and security. Gun Shot Detection is a system that detects and alerts people of gun shots. It senses loud frequency of sound to detect a gunshot and will immediately notify civilians to stay away from the danger area using a GPS coordinate system. It also uses blinking lights to warn people who do not use cell phones.

The winning teams were awarded cash prizes of $2,000, $1,000 and $500, and all 15 teams finished the Ideathon with a better understanding of how science, technology, engineering and math can positively contribute to their communities.

Watch the video above to learn more about the students’ innovations.