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Smithsonian and ePals Challenge Kids Globally to Solve Real-World Problems

Through ePals, classes can find like minded students around the world.
Through ePals, classes can find like minded students around the world.

Last week ePals Corporation, an education media company and Global Learning Network, announced the launch of its third annual Spark! Lab Invent It Challenge in partnership with the Smithsonian's Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation. The Challenge honors K12 student winners whose creative inventions best demonstrate the Spark!Lab process of invention, with a patent filing and Camp Invention scholarship among the prizes. The Spark!Lab Invent It Challenge is open to students globally, with age-group categories from five to 18 and both individual and group submissions accepted.

"The challenge, designed to inspire and support students, empowers them to recognize the inventor within as they identify and solve problems," says Joan Auchter, ePals Vice President of Education. "ePals is delighted to offer the third annual global student challenge in partnership with the Smithsonian."

The challenge requires students to follow seven key steps in the invention process, including identifying a problem, conducting research, sketching, building a prototype, testing, refining and marketing the product. Results may be demonstrated through PowerPoints, videos, photographs, Word documents or other media. The process reinforces a range of 21st-century skills, including the use of digital technologies, and also meets several Common Core, STEM and other learning standards.

Past winning inventions include a portable transport vehicle for children and elderly refugees fleeing conflict and famine; a "sand sleeve" wrist guard to steady the hands of the elderly; a "turbo scraper" for vehicle snow and ice removal; a water conservation device; and other imaginative offerings. For videos of past winners talking tips and inspiration, visit:

"The Smithsonian's Lemelson Center believes that kids are natural innovators," says Tricia Edwards, education specialist at the center. "The Challenge invites them to develop their original ideas and be recognized in a way that encourages their growth as entrepreneurs and global citizens who can add value to the world."

A panel of Smithsonian and ePals judges will select winners after the April 11th close of contest. Winners will receive global recognition and prizes from sponsors, including Smithsonian book sets, eligibility for a patent application filed by the Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough LLP law firm, a Camp Invention scholarship and LEGO products.The deadline for submitting inventions to the Spark!Lab Invent It Challenge is April 11, 2014 for uploaded or email entries and an April 8, 2014 postmark for mailed entries. For challenge details, including past winners, submission categories, a challenge template, guidelines and scoring information, visit:

About ePals Corporation

ePals Corporation (TSXV: SLN) is an education media company and Global Learning Network. Focused on the K-12 market, ePals offers school administrators, teachers, students and parents worldwide trusted content, interactive learning experiences, and a collaborative learning community. ePals' award-winning products include: popular children's educational publishing brands from toddlers to teens, including Cricket® and Cobblestone®; the ePals Global Community®; and In2Books®, a Common Core eMentoring program that builds reading, writing and critical thinking skills. New is a full service content-licensing, clearance and production service for education publishers. ePals serves approximately one million classrooms and reaches millions of teachers, students and parents in 222 countries and territories. Product websites include:;; and

About Spark!Lab

Spark!Lab is a hands-on invention activity space operated by the Jerome and Dorothy Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation ( at the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History. The Lemelson Center's mission is to document, interpret and disseminate information about invention and innovation, to encourage creativity in young people, and to foster an appreciation for the central role of invention and innovation in the history of the United States. Spark!Lab will reopen at the Museum in Summer 2015.

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