• Pinellas Education Foundation Awards $30,000 To The Winners of Its Next Generation Entrepreneurs And Next Generation Tech Programs

    LARGO, Fla. – The Pinellas Education Foundation awarded $30,000 to the 1st, 2nd and 3rd place winners of its Next Generation Entrepreneurs and Next Generation Tech Programs at an awards ceremony on April 26 attended by more than 200 people. At the event, 1st place for each program received $10,000, 2nd place received $3,500 and 3rd place received $1,500. Winners can use the funds to either start their business or to go to college or technical school. Finalists in both programs took part in many different workshops and mentor opportunities with local entrepreneurs in order to hone their product concepts. Teams were able to apply to both programs if their projects fit the specifications for each program.


    The winners in the Next Generation Entrepreneur Program were:


    1st place: FLASTEM – Nikhil Sharma, Daniel Denison, Michael Froid, Ethan Smith and Adriana Nazarko – Lakewood High School

    Project Overview: The gender and diversity gap that permeates the STEM industry is also apparent within K-12 classrooms all across Pinellas County. Especially with programming and robotics classes, there are fewer girls and minorities found in advanced STEM classes. According to an alarming report released by US News, the US economy will be facing a shortage of 5 million workers, with STEM jobs composing a majority of those lost jobs. If we don’t get out in front of this situation right now, the world economy will be facing an inescapable job hole, slowing down technological growth and innovative advances. We are solving this problem as a nonprofit organization.


    2nd place: Sail & Save – Sean Brodney, Harry Suers, Ethan Myott and William Warren – Lakewood High School

    Project Overview: In the Tampa Bay area, many working and middle class families are price gouged by rental companies that exercise a relative monopoly, while many families within that same demographic have water-sports equipment (such as kayaks and fishing equipment) that they don’t use regularly.  We have a solution that would both amortize the cost of this equipment and provide a less expensive and more convenient option for tourists and locals to rent this sporting equipment.


    3rd place: The Perfect Pitcher – Samantha Ewing and Ashley Ferrer – Osceola and St. Pete Collegiate

    Project Overview: Waiters and waiters are often hurried and can be found carrying too much, between food and drink orders. This balancing act of food and beverages can result in spillage and unwanted fumbling. Water pitchers are prone to being unintentionally spilled, this results in an extra mess that waiter and waiters generally do not have time to clean up – not to mention it is embarrassing. We have solved this pitcher problem with the Perfect Pitcher.



    The winners in the Next Generation Tech program were:


    1st place: Scanned – Connor Dupuis, Nicholas Ionata, Rohan Kohli  – East Lake High School

    Project Overview: Taking attendance of large groups for events and meetings is a pain. This problem is experienced on both sides. The signing in and signing out process exemplifies many inefficiencies. Additionally the management side of recording attendance is equally inefficient. We have created an app that solves this.



    2nd place: STEM LINK – Nikhil Sharma, Daniel Denison, Michael Froid, Ethan Smith and Adriana Nazarko – Lakewood High School

    Project Overview: Traditional classrooms are not equipped to meet the ever fluctuating demands of the 21st century. As technology expands and revolutionizes the world, we need to make sure that 21st century students have the skills and experiences needed to properly prepare themselves for higher education and careers. According to the U.S Department of Education, over 2 million students are currently homeschooled and over 6.7 million students are taking online classes. The appeal of online classes for most students is a combination of ease as well as enhanced learning due to more online tools. VOLE will be a solution to lack of interest that students show in some subject areas, as well as a way to revolutionize education, so that students in a brick-and-mortar school as well as students taking classes online will receive the same degree of beneficial education.


    3rd place: Game Squids – Matthew DiGiovanni,  Johnathan Ferguson, Elijah Hunter, Franchesca Komarnitzky, Jaden Slack – Career Academies of Seminole

    Project Overview:  Video games teach children problem solving and creativity. Video games help with children brain development. Our game is a side scrolling game, the character is a narwhal, who lost his family in a hurricane, and trying to get back home. The narwhal has to overcome obstacles like jellyfish and plastic bags, oil, etc. Our game will teach about pollution, and relieve stress to the player.



    Now in its fifth year, the Foundation’s Next Generation Entrepreneurs program celebrates the innovative ideas from high schools students in Pinellas County. This year, more than 97 applications were submitted and 12 were chosen as finalists. The program’s chair is Steve Allen, CEO of Taffie.net.


    The Foundation’s Next Generation Tech program is in its second year and had 57 applications from high school students in Pinellas County. Projects consisted of phone apps, videogames or other plans that encompassed programming and software design. The program’s author and chair is Robyn Mussler, CEO of Resolution Management.



    About The Pinellas Education Foundation
    The Pinellas Education Foundation is an independent, non-governmental not-for-profit established in 1986.  The Foundation’s mission is to enhance and improve educational opportunities in Pinellas County Schools. Well known Pinellas Education Foundation programs include: Academies of Pinellas, Enterprise Village, Finance Park, Future Plans, Take Stock in Children Scholarships, Youth Connect and Fund A Classroom Grants. www.pinellaseducation.org