We’ve waited long enough to release who won the top prize at Nationals….
SEASON 5’s WINNING TEAM IS…..
THE MALLORY’S won $10,000 for “Wet Your Pants!” After a challenging 48 hours, their STEAM-inspired game won over the judges and audience alike. Not only did Amanda, Andy, Drew and Greg take home the big check, they also won an additional kid’s choice award. Their journey is currently underway on PBS.org and stations across the US.
The Mallory’s are educators from Purdue Polytechnic High School and competed in 2021 at Machyne Makerspace. The Eli Lilly challenge focused on empowering health at home and they won for their SPRING product, a discrete tabletop, home health IV stand. The National’s challenge theme was STEAM Toys for children 5-15.
The Mallory’s have been on an amazing journey this past year. Recently, Tom Gray visited them in Indianapolis at PPHS and shared the new prototype, designed with Design Edge. Matt Nuccio and Dougal Grimes were mentors and are helping the team with the steps needed for the product to go further.
Andy, Gregg and Amanda volunteered at Make48’s event at Fishers Maker Playground this year to help teams create their ideas. We caught up with them and talked about their challenge process, how each team member played a role and a look at what the new product looks like today.
M48: Where did the brainstorming/ideation process come from?
Gregg: There were a lot of iterations. We did the same brainstorming process at Nationals as we did in Indianapolis. We came up with as many ideas as we could and put them on board, then whittled them down until we found something that we liked. We worked on that awhile, but it didn’t work out. Same thing happened again. Then Andy said, ‘what about this?’ and we said that’s it.
Andy: We initially had our ideas and one of our ideas had to do with water going through some tubing, but it wasn't working the way we wanted it to. I think it was not having the physical parts. The idea of water flowing kind of popped into my head. What we had wasn't working, but there was something about it that kind of inspired me.
Gregg: One of our ideas we even thought seriously about was having pikes. That’s where the water would move and they would spin a little turbine to be able to power something so you could plug something in and light up a city kind of thing.
Andy: We were trying to take advantage of water flowing into something with hydroelectric and the kids could learn from.
Gregg: Then Andy turned it into a game. It's just one of those strokes of genius.
Andy: I'm sure it came from somewhere. The complexity of all the other parts seemed like when I was a kid putting things together. Legos are fun enough and it's just rectangles. So we didn't need a whole bunch of do-dads. I don't know where the theme of the toilet thing came from?
Greg: I'm sure it was just brainstorming thinking… How are we going to put water into it? And water goes to the toilet?
Andy: Once we realized that water would end up on your pants, then we said, well, then it's clearly potty themed.
M48: What specific roles did each team member play?
Andy: We definitely have roles that we fell into. Gregg is a hands-on builder. He does a lot with 2D/3D and CAD modeling. Mechanical and electrical stuff. Drew is both the sales sheet and video guy, but more than anything, he's the leveraging other people kind of guy. When someone would come around to our table, he would engage them in conversation. He'd get feedback. What is your expertise? Oh, you work with toys. Okay. Tell us what you know about that. What's your expertise? You are the patent lawyer. Now, let me pick your brain about this thing. It's just amazing to kind of watch him leverage other people's skills and passions.
Gregg: It frees us up just to build the product.
Andy: And Amanda is our go-to for anything else.
Gregg: She's our den mother. She keeps us alive.
Andy: Amanda was also our outside perspective. Sometimes, I would get my head in about a design. It's like, all right, it's not fully fleshed out enough. And Amanda asks the questions that need to be asked.
Gregg: Drew wasn't supposed to be at Nationals because he had a baby. I can't imagine that we could have done it without all of the dynamics from the four of us. I don't think any one of us was more or less important than the other.
M48: Where are you at with your prototype?
Gregg: Our patent application was submitted to the government. We had Matt Nuccio and his company (Design Edge) make a prototype of our product and it came out amazing. Soon, we’ll send the prototype to Dougal (Grimes) at Spin Master and start the process to see if they want it. Hopefully, someone will want to invest in the product and we can tell people to go buy this as a Christmas present one day.
M48: What did you do with the award?
Gregg: We've got pretty much all of the $10,000 invested into attorneys, paying for the prototyping, etc. I'll tell you, if it wasn't for the prize money that we won, I wouldn't have been able to write a check for $2,000 and say let's do this.
Andy: You realize that it is about having good ideas, but that next step is probably quite a barrier for a lot of ideas. I think about our idea from the Indianapolis series, and we have a patent pending on it. But taking it to that next step is, do we want to? Is it worth it? Is there really a market for it? I'm kind of sad that it's not easier to just throw a permanent patent on it and go with it. It's a big process. I have a lot more respect for the kind of inventors who risk themselves and are daring enough to try these things.
M48: Is there anything that you guys would do differently at Nationals?
Andy: I mean, could we come up with our favorite idea first next time?
Amanda: It can't be easy all the time, Andy
Gregg: There were a lot of really good products from the Nationals. It was nice to walk away again knowing it was well-earned and first place wasn't given to us by any stretch of the imagination.
Andy: I know. I wish I'd been able to circle around and see how the other teams worked. It would be interesting to see how the other teams approached the problem. Just before the competition was over we finally got to know them. All the competitors were really creative, and some of the conversations we had after it was over, I was like, wow, these are really cool people doing cool things, having cool jobs. I think that was the coolest part.
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