FORWARD THINKING: ABC Inventors host James O’Loghlin with students who are working on ideas to get to NASA.
FORWARD THINKING: ABC Inventors host James O’Loghlin with students who are working on ideas to get to NASA. Quentin Jones

A big idea could land these kids at NASA

THERE'S just one month to go for budding young inventors on the Coffs Coast to enter Origin's littleBIGidea competition for a chance to win the trip of a lifetime to NASA's Kennedy Space Centre in the USA.

Now in its second year, the competition provides a platform for students in Years 3 to 8 to continue Australia's rich tradition of innovation, which has seen the bionic ear, solar hot water, ultrasound, dual toilet flush and wi-fi hotspots, amongst others, invented and developed on these shores.

Former host of the ABC's The New Inventors and Origin littleBIGidea ambassador, James O'Loghlin, says thinking up a new idea or invention is fun and exciting, but it can sometimes be tricky to know where to start.

"I encourage students who are keen to enter but don't have an idea in mind yet to start by looking at things that already exist. Is there something that's already out there that you can make better, or can you improve an existing product to make it easier to use?

"Experiment. Draw a picture of your idea, write down how it will work, and build a model or a prototype. Don't get discouraged if it doesn't quite work the first few times. Inventors almost always fail before they succeed.

"Tell your family and friends about your idea. They may have some suggestions on how to make it better. Ask lots of questions and remember, no idea is too big or too small."

Origin executive general manager, Phil Craig, said judges would be looking for entries based on a demonstration of originality, creativity, practicality, imagination and innovation.

"Children have limitless imaginations and come up with amazing ideas. Origin's littleBIGidea competition provides a platform for students to showcase those ideas," Phil said.

"We have been blown away with the entries received so far and we're looking forward to seeing what other brilliant ideas are out there. Who knows, the next world-changing idea could come from North Coast NSW."

The 12 finalists will be flown to Sydney to present their ideas to the judging panel on Tuesday, October 6 at the Powerhouse Museum.

Three overall winners (one in Years 3-4, one in Years 4-5 and one in Years 7-8) will win an innovation trip of a lifetime to Florida, including a visit to the NASA Kennedy Space Center.

littleBIGidea is part of Origin's Energy For Schools program - a free, online energy education resource for teachers and students.

This year marks the program's 12th anniversary.



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