Students at Sisters Christian Academy earned awards for their proposals on how to clean the oceans as part of the 28th annual Inventerprise Science Contest Challenge.

Brenda Simpson, senior product development lead from Lonza Pharma & Biotech, presented awards to six students at Sisters Christian Academy.

The contest is sponsored by Bend Research, which is now a part of Lonza Pharma & Biotech, with support from Bend-La Pine Schools, Central Oregon Community College and the Riverhouse on the Deschutes.

Central Oregon students had the opportunity to address the crisis created by the massive accumulation of discarded plastic based on this year’s competition problem statement:

“Plastic, Plastic Everywhere. One of our greatest inventions is now a global threat. What will you create to address this problem?”

“This year we had 1,200 entries from students all over Central Oregon,” Simpson said. “There was a lot of competition and just over 160 students won awards and only 114 student winners in grades K-6 received specially designed T-shirts and will be invited to a special Science Night presentation at Lonza’s Tumalo facility. This includes the six students from Sisters Christian Academy.”

The Inventerprise contest was open to all Central Oregon students in grades K-12, including home-schooled students. Entries were judged on originality, usefulness and development of the concept.

Dory Koehler-King, Inventerprise contest director, said, “The excitement that the students bring to this contest every year is truly inspiring.”

Inventerprise winners from Sisters Christian Academy are Emily Carnahan, second grade, for her project “River Claw”; Judy Jeppsen, Hayley Strasser, and Peyton von Pohle, third grade, for their project “The Ocean Cleaner”; and Mary Miracle, fourth grade, and fifth-grader Ally Gilliam for their project, “The Purple Brick.”

Carnahan, who worked solo, explained how her invention, River Claw, will automatically pick up plastic as it gets trapped in netting and will automatically transport the material into a recycle bin.

The students had four weeks of working on their projects in class, two days a week. They also had the option of working on their projects outside of class.

Science and math instructor Randy Muir has been teaching at Sisters Christian Academy for over 20 years and was there to support the six students as they presented their projects or inventions to the enthusiastic audience during the assembly.

“One of the best ways to learn and to develop a love for learning is to allow students the opportunity to be actively involved in a real-world project,” Muir said. “As they move through their projects, they’re learning about the science behind their inventions, how to work on a project from beginning idea to end product, and how to work with others in a small group. Inventerprise fulfills an opportunity to learn all those life-enhancing skills.”

For over a decade Muir has entered students from Sisters Christian Academy into the Inventerprise Contest Challenge.

The Inventerprise Contest began in 1992 as an outgrowth of a business-education partnership between Bend Research and the Bend-La Pine School District to promote science education and enrich students’ educational experience. Fourteen years ago, Central Oregon Community College joined the effort by helping to plan and run the contest. New this year, the Riverhouse on the Deschutes has joined the partnership by offering up space for the contest.