Video of Western Michigan University Innovation Expo

Innovation Expo

Friday, Dec. 1, 2023

What is Innovation Expo? K-12 and WMU students compete for awards and prize money by presenting their products, models and prototypes to a panel of judges and the community.

Who should participate? Any K-12 student teams and WMU student teams with an innovative product or service may participate. Educators, students, families, community members and entrepreneurs are invited to attend and encourage the teams.

How are winners selected? A panel of community judges select the top three teams from each age group. A Popular Vote award is given to the team that receives the most Innovation Dollars. Guests and participants receive a package of these innovation dollars to vote for their favorite projects. 

Where should I park? Free parking is available in the East and West parking ramps and the surface lot near Floyd Hall. Follow the signs when you arrive. Or, locate lots P1, P2 and P3 on the campus map.

Registration

Note: Educators must register K-12 teams. Registration closes Friday, Nov. 10, 2023.

Tentative Schedule

Doors open at 9 a.m. Setup time for all teams is scheduled at 9:15 a.m.

Note: Teams must be at their tables during the designated Pitch time to be judged. During spend time, students, teachers and guests walk around and spend innovation dollars for the popular vote! 

  • WMU students—Pitch from 8:30 a.m. until 11:30 a.m.
  • Grades 9 through 12—Pitch from 10:15 to 11:45 a.m.; spend at 9:45 a.m.
  • Grades 6 through 8—Pitch from 9:45 to 11:15 a.m.; spend at 11:15 a.m.
  • Grade 5—Pitch from 9:45 to 10:15 a.m. and 10:45 to 11:45 a.m.; spend at 10:15 a.m.
  • Grades K through 4—Pitch from 9:45 to 10:45 a.m. and 11:15 to 11:45 a.m.; spend at 10:45 a.m.

What to expect

  • Pitching!
  • Listening to other students pitch and voting with Innovation Dollars.
  • Raffles! All students participants will automatically be entered to win prizes. 
  • Educator's Raffle! Gift card prizes for teachers.
  • Lunch provided for all students. 

Headline

  • Innovation Expo Encouraging entrepreneurs of the future and celebrating WMU's entrepreneurial community.

  • Guidelines for student projects
    The student(s) must have:
    • A product or service that is unique, innovative, and has a clear market need.
    • Proof of concept or working prototype to show.
    • The product can use existing technology or involve modification of existing technology for a creative new product or service.
    Additional guidance
    • The technology can be, but does not need to be, brand new technology or necessarily “high tech.”
    • A well-developed business plan is not required, but it is expected that the student(s) have an understanding about the unmet need and the opportunity.
    • A 24- by 36-inch poster board will be required on competition day and must convey information including, but not limited to, the following:
      • a description of product or service and its operation.
      • benefits of the product or service.
      • market for the product or service.
      • competitive advantage.
    • It is recommended that visuals be simple, clear, and effective with good use of tables, charts and/or pictures.
  • Judging criteria

    Criteria are rated using a scale of 1-4: 1 - Emerging, 2 - Developing, 3 - Proficient, 4 - Advanced

    Grades K through 4

    • Students have identified an age-appropriate, realistic problem.
    • Students offer an original solution, either an Invention or innovation, and provide evidence that it solves the problem.
    • Display is attractive and tells the story of the project.
    • Presentation: good eye contact, can explain the project and its solution, presentation is well-rehearsed. 

    Grades 5 and 6

    • Students have identified an age-appropriate, realistic problem and can explain why it is a problem. Students can talk about challenges faced.
    • Students offer an original solution, either an Invention or innovation, and provide evidence that it solves the problem. Students can answer questions with confidence regarding how they arrived at their solution. 
    • Display is attractive and tells the story of the project. Grammar and spelling are correct.  Some testing data should be present.
    • Presentation:  good eye contact, well spoken, well-rehearsed. Firm handshake if offered.

    Grades 7 and 8

    • Project represents a problem with some complexity. Students consider potential customers, how the product or service may be marketed and how the solution will improve lives. 
    • Students offer an original solution and they demonstrate its testing. They talk about challenges, obstacles and successes.
    • Display is attractive and tells the story of the project.  Data from testing is displayed, either raw data or tables or charts. Grammar and spelling are correct.
    • Presentation:  good eye contact, well spoken, well-rehearsed.   Firm handshake if offered. If more than one person, all must participate equally.

    Grades 9 through 12

    • Project represents a problem with some complexity. Students consider potential customers, how the product or service may be marketed, how the solution will improve lives. 
    • Students offer an original solution and demonstrate its testing. Prototype is true to life. It doesn’t have to work, but it should accurately portray what a working model would look like.
    • Students will express understanding of the design process, how the prototype took shape, how the team (if more than one) worked together.  Credit is given to supporters.
    • Display is attractive and tells the story of the project. Data from testing is displayed. Charts or graphs include appropriately labeled axes. Student presenters can explain how the data drove the design process. Free of grammar and spelling errors.
    • Presentation:  good eye contact, well spoken, well-rehearsed. Firm handshake if offered. All presenters participate equally.
  • Prizes

    Judges will select the Top 3 pitches from each age category and award the following prizes:

    • Grades K-4: 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place medals
    • Grades 5 and 6: 1st, 2nd and 3rd place medals
    • Grades 7 and 8: 1st, 2nd and 3rd place medals
    • Grades 9 through 12: Each team member will receive a cash award and medal—$75 for 1st place; $50 for 2nd place; and $25 for 3rd place.
    • WMU students: Each team member will receive a cash award and medal—$100 for 1st place; $75 for 2nd place; and $50 for 3rd place. 

    Innovation Dollars will be counted to award the Popular Vote for each age group.

  • Educator's guide

    What to expect?

    • Who can participate: All students grade K-12 from any school
    • Time commitment: Friday, December 1, 9 a.m. until 1 p.m.
    • Location: Floyd Hall, WMU Parkview campus
    • Registration: Teachers must register all K-12 teams online by Friday, Nov. 10. Register now. You will need the following information to complete registration.
      • Student name (s)
      • Team name
      • Project name
      • T-shirt sizes for all team members—Youth (S-XL) and Adult (S-XXL). 

    Educators will receive an email confirmation for each team they register.

    The following items will be provided at each team's table:

    • Event t-shirts for all team members and participating teachers to wear to Innovation Expo.
    • Student name badges.
    • Innovation Dollars for to spend as they listen to other grade levels pitch.

    Water stations will be located throughout Innovation Expo.

  • Sponsorship opportunities

    As a sponsor, you are advancing area students to greatness in an entrepreneurship experience, influencing the future workforce of the future and gaining brand awareness in our community. Please email Carey Schoolmaster if you are interested in sponsoring.

    Presenting Sponsor:
    WMU College of Engineering and Applied Sciences

    Strategic Partner (2 available at $2,500 each)

    • Company representatives are invited to present the award in person to students at award ceremony
    • (1) Provide lunch in sponsors name
    • (1) provide reusable water bottles and gift bags
    • Sponsor name and link to 30- second video (company provides) on sponsor page
    • Verbal recognition during award ceremony
    • Name recognition on t-shirts, website and event program

    Scholarship Partner (3 available at $2,000 each)

    • Provides three high school seniors with $2,000 scholarships for the 2024 fall semester at WMU College of Engineering and Applied Sciences
    • Company logo on certificates
    • Verbal recognition during award ceremony
    • Name recognition on t-shirts, website and event program

    Teacher and Student Raffle Partner (2 available at $1,000 each)

    • Poster at raffle table with company logo
    • Funding of raffle gifts
    • Verbal recognition during award ceremony
    • Name recognition on t-shirts, website and event program

    Friends of the Expo ($500 each)

    • Help to provide lunch, snacks, gifts and gift bags
    • Verbal recognition during award ceremony
    • Name recognition on website, t-shirts and event program

Register your team

An educator must register a K-12 team. You will need the following information to complete the registration process: school name, educator's name, cell phone number, email address, grade level, student names, project title, T-shirt size for each team member.

Need more information?

Feel free to contact us with all your questions!

Tina Sivewright, Innovation Expo Coordinator
(269) 276-3802 
Email Tina Sivewright

Our Sponsors

Other links