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‘Anti-Bully Band’ wins USF Seventh Annual Young Innovator Competition

Tampa Bay’s K-8 innovators showcase their inventions and creative spirits

By: Diana Vergara, USF Research News

TAMPA, Fla. (Feb. 12, 2015) – A smart anti-bullying bracelet—one that alerts teachers when students are being bullied and sends their location and photo—was awarded the grand prize Wednesday night at the USF Young Innovator Competition.

Alexis Martin, a third grade student at the Spessard L. Holland Elementary School in Polk County, won the $1,000 cash grand prize, along with a matching cash prize for her school, for her invention, the “Anti-Bully Band.” Martin competed in a final pitch competition against nine other finalists at USF’s Patel Center on the Tampa campus to a panel of local celebrity judges.

First runner-up was awarded to fifth grade student Marc Taylor from the Learning Gate Community School for his retractable speed bump for school zones, the “Up Bump.” Taylor was awarded a $500 cash prize along with a matching prize for his school. Second-runner up and eighth grade student Hanley Riggs received a $250 cash prize and $250 for the Academy at the Lakes for her ‘The Missing Piece” pressurized clothing developed for use with autistic children.

The 2015 Outback Steakhouse Top Trademark Award was awarded to sixth grader Waishy Harmon from the Family of Christ Christian School for her “Rush Brush,” a brush with an attached storage compartment and water spray. A commemorative patent plaque was also presented to two-time finalist (2012 and 2013) George Seits, who was awarded a U.S. patent for his 2012 invention, a compact and collapsible shovel that could be used for camping and the military.

At the end of the evening, HSN veteran television host Bill Green, returning as a judge for the fifth year, presented all ten finalists with gifts from HSN, ranging from a laptop computer and a PS3 console, to a Go-Pro camera and Nintendo 3DS console, among others. The finalists also received annual family memberships from MOSI, Tampa’s Museum of Science and Industry.

In addition, each of the more than 570 K-8 students from Hillsborough, Pinellas, Pasco, Hernando Citrus, Manatee, Sarasota, and Polk counties who submitted inventions to the competition received a free day pass from MOSI.

Anton Hopen, a USF alumnus, nationally-recognized patent attorney, managing partner of the Smith & Hopen law firm, and founder and director of the USF Young Innovator Competition, served as host for the evening. Hopen founded the competition with his teenage daughter Anna in 2009, in an effort to promote innovation and creativity in young people of the Tampa Bay region.

At Wednesday night’s competition, the finalists pitched their inventions to a panel of judges that included Green, Sebastian Dewhurst, CEO of EASA Software and six-time final competition judge, Israel Morejon, LED lighting technology developer and CEO of LEDnovation, Jenn Holloway, inventor, former Bay News 9 anchor, and community affairs coordinator at WTTA Great 38, and Valerie McDevitt, USF Associate Vice President for Technology Transfer & Business Partnerships.

The contest entries were screened by a panel of patent experts and final competitors were selected by members of the USF Chapter of the National Academy of Inventors (NAI).

The weekend before the competition, the top 10 finalists attended a workshop at the HSN headquarters on how to pitch their inventions from coaches and judges Dewhurst and Green.

In a confident presentation before the judges, Martin pitched her smart bracelet, with a button students can press when they are being bullied and a gps tracker that alerts teachers via a mobile app to the student’s location along with their name and photo. The bracelet and app can also be used by parents to track the location of lost children. Martin has plans to partner with FitBit bracelets and Amber Alert in the future. After her presentation, HSN host and judge Green invited Martin to pitch her product to HSN CEO Mindy Grossman. Judge Dewhurst described Martin as a “born saleswoman” and Judge Holloway called her a “phenomenal pitchwoman” with an “important product and worldwide audience.”

For more details, visit the USF Young Innovator website at

The University of South Florida is a high-impact, global research university dedicated to student success. USF is a Top 50 research university among both public and private institutions nationwide in total research expenditures, according to the National Science Foundation. Serving nearly 48,000 students, the USF System has an annual budget of $1.5 billion and an annual economic impact of $4.4 billion. USF is a member of the American Athletic Conference and a Charter Member of the National Academy of Inventors.

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