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Arkansas students heading to national competition

The students will have 48 hours to create a prototype from scratch as they compete to win $10,000.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — A team of students from Pulaski Academy will be heading to Kansas City to compete in a national competition after winning the Make48 innovators competition at the Arkansas Regional Innovation Hub.

The team is composed of three students and their teacher, Mr. Les Williams.

“We go in there and we might know a theme beforehand, but we don't know what we're actually putting together," said Pulaski Academy senior, Allen Thomason. 

Thomason, along with classmates Galen Jauss and Evan Goodwin, and Mr. Les Williams competed in the competition under the team name 'BruWin'— a play on their school mascot The Bruins. 

The name of the competition, Make48, explains it all; they will have 48 hours to create from scratch a prototype while working with a team.

“They line us up in front of the clock and say all right, here it is. This is what you're building. This is what you've got to work on over these next 48 hours. And then it's just go, go, go, go, go till then," Thomason said. 

At the regional level, the BruWins competed against teams of all ages— many of them were established marketing and engineering teams, but even students in elementary school competed. 

The challenge was sponsored by NLR Economic Development and the city of NLR for a “Trail of Tears” dedication challenge.

Each team was given the task of creating an outdoor-interactive tribute that could be displayed at Riverfront Park.

“Innovate, iterate, and create a works-like mix-like prototype that is presented to a panel of experts who in a "Shark Tank" fashion will actually purchase the idea and take it to market," Williams said. 

The race against the clock always involves bouncing ideas off of each other.

“We thought about the different ways that the Native Americans had to travel through here and we wanted something that was a little bit different, a little bit more eye-catching," Thomason explained. "So, we eventually settled on a steamboat monument that would be set on the riverfront." 

Ultimately, they created a place where one could play and learn with augmented and virtual reality elements.

With the regional competition win under their belt, the team will head to Kansas City University in Missouri for another 2-day frenzy of innovation.

With a 10,000 dollar prize, a custom-made trophy, and the potential for their Trail of Tears prototype to be developed all on the line, the guys said they will also leave with something greater.

“Our biggest takeaway is probably going to be the camaraderie and how we work together and how we can like just work and know what we're doing but also like kind of fail at the same time," Goodwin said.

Although the start of the national Make48 competition is from March 31 to April 1, you can still help the BruWin team get a head start.

You can share their posts on Twitter for the “spirit award” competition with the hashtag #m48spiritaward.

Tune in to the Makers Channel on Roku's Live TV to watch the regional competitions leading to the March 2023 Nationals.


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