Orchard Students Compete in PBS Docu-series’ National 48-Hour Maker Competition
Last fall, seven teams of Indianapolis makers geared up to compete in Make48, the “world’s fastest invention competition,” and their efforts are being made into a PBS documentary series. Make48’s City Series tasks teams of mostly adult-experts in carpentry, engineering and manufacturing in Wichita, Kan.; Madison, Wis.; Indianapolis, and Hartford, Conn., to create impactful prototypes for companies in just 48 hours.
This was the first time Make48 had come in search of Hoosier hopefuls, and one of those teams included Anya Hicks ’22 and Miles Suarez-Davis ’22, eighth-graders at The Orchard School. Anya’s father, Pastor Ivan Douglas Hicks, entered them in the competition and named his team after the consulting firm he founded in June 2012, The Grindery. Kudos to Pastor Hicks for recognizing the skills Orchard students have learned in our Makerspace and giving them a chance to measure their talents against the pros!
With a youthful perspective in the tool belt, the team brainstormed and tackled the challenge provided by sponsor Eli Lilly and Co., themed Empowering Health@Home. Even though they were two of the youngest Indianapolis competitors, Miles and Anya brought unmatched tenacity thanks to their time at Orchard. “I walked into the competition at Machyne Makerspace, and I felt like I was right at home,” Miles said. “We were able to converse with Make48’s Tool Techs in a more accurate way because we understood how the machinery worked. It was similar to Orchard.” Tool Techs are fabrication experts who help team members utilize tools safely, similar to the role of Orchard Makerspace Coordinator Scott Weaver.
Anya believes Orchard’s safe space to make mistakes and learn from them is what contributed to the team’s achievements. “Perseverance has always been pushed at this school,” she said. “So we were able to stay calm under pressure and regroup when our prototypes would break.”
Teams made up of carpenters, manufacturing engineers, and even Ph.D. students from Purdue Polytechnic Institute in West Lafayette were probably shocked to hear the confidence from team thegrindery.org. Not only did our Owls speak the shop lingo, but they also had to stand in front of a room full of STEM professionals and pitch their original prototype to a panel of judges from Eli Lilly and Co., Anthem, and the Indianapolis Recorder newspaper.
We’ll have to wait for the PBS docu-series to air to find out what each team created and how they placed, but we do know our Owls impressed enough to earn a trip to Wichita to compete at the national event. “The reason we think we did well,” Miles said, “was because we as kids have a different kind of creativity and ingenuity that’s not found in people working the same kind of engineering jobs for the past 20 years.”
Nationals for the Make48 competition will take place in March, and our Owl team could win $10,000! That’s quite a lot of money to split between two 13-year-olds. No surprise, if Anya and Miles win, they plan to be smart and help the community, too. “I’ll definitely invest some of it,” Anya said. “And I’ll definitely donate some to a charity. Fingers crossed!”