Two North Carolina teens – one from Charlotte – took regional honors in a youth innovation essay contest sponsored by the Charlotte Observer and Inventor’s Digest, which is based in Charlotte.

Students nationwide ages 12-17 were asked to write essays imagining what new technologies would exist in the year 2059. The contests were sponsored to recognize National Inventors Month in August.

Justin Williams, 13, of Southwest Middle School in Charlotte, won the Carolinas middle school competition for his networked school desk and at-home tablet. Judges enjoyed how Justin seized the initiative to conceive his own invention (including a rendering) and articulated how it would shape future education.

Christopher Hunter,16, of Warren New Tech High School in Warrenton, N.C., secured the Carolinas high school prize for his neural-computer interface for music composition. The judges warmed to the originality of his think-and-play technology, one of the only entries that addressed music – a universal language used by every culture.

About 400 students nationwide entered the contest. For their efforts, Justin and Christopher will receive free iPods.

Below are their essays:

By Justin Williams
By 2059, our schools will be modernized with many different kinds of inventions to improve the way teachers educate students. Today, schools waste 695,691,200 sheets of paper a year. That’s a lot of paper.

Another problem is when teachers instruct students to bring their textbooks and notebooks to school and students misplace them. Textbooks have a high economic value, and notebooks have an extremely high sentimental value.

It is worse when a notebook is lost because it contains all of your notes that are personalized so you can understand them. Losing a notebook can also cost a student’s grade. I will explain how my idea will revolutionize the way teachers teach around the world.

Imagine when you walk into a classroom, you sit in a desk without a notebook, a textbook or even a pencil or pen. Well by 2059, it will be a reality.

Students will walk into classrooms looking “unprepared,” as teachers would say today. All school supplies will be obsolete. You are probably wondering what invention can eliminate school supplies.

My invention is literally a desktop computer. It is a desk with a built-in computer. With my invention, students will be able to do many tasks, such as take notes or even upload and personalize pre-made notes from the teacher. Students will be able to take tests and do projects on the desk.

More than one program will be able to open at the same time, such as a textbook and a notebook because of the screen’s large size. A teacher can tell you to solve a problem on the board without getting out of your seat. All you do is use your stylus to solve the problem.

The whole class can also see your work along with the teacher. The desk will be compatible with many other applications and programs. The notes that were taken will be able to be saved under the students’ ID and uploaded after class to the other part of my invention – the at-home tablet.

The at-home tablet will be like a laptop, but it will have two screens and no keyboard. It will allow multitasking. The device will be touch-screen. Teachers will send students digital worksheets, documents and educational games.

Unlike laptops, the table will have a built-in wireless wide area card network (WWAN) connection to the Internet like many cell phones.

My plan is that every country will have their own network for their schools. Students will connect to their country’s network through another country’s network so students could have access to the Internet everywhere they go.

The tablet will have a camera and microphone so if you are sick or on vacation, you can still attend and participate in school. This tablet also will be compatible with many apps and software.

My invention will dramatically reduced the amount of paper we use and change the way we educate students around the world.


By Christopher Hunter
By 2059 an invention that I believe will be put in place is music composition, including different instrumentation, by the use of brain signals and cognitive thought.

With today’s technology, we have made it possible to crudely control prosthetic limbs by force of thought. We know that brain waves are electrical and chemical pulses that are sent out and read by different parts of the body.

With refining, we can make it so that the signals are read even more accurately. This technology can also be applied in other ways to enhance people’s lives.

Computers could be configured to receive thought processes from people.

Music composition has come a long way. We have gone from having to write on pieces of parchment to being able to compose entire concertos without using a single piece of paper. Programs like Song Writer and Finale 2009 have helped bring music composition to where it is today.

It is now possible for a person to sing a melody and the pitches are plugged into the computer.

With new breakthrough technology, a person would be able to control, through concentration, the notes they wanted, the length of the note, and the type of instrument they wanted to use. The combination of these two technologies can allow individuals to create songs, symphonies even, by just thinking of them.

Those who might not be able to write music because of some disability, whether it is physical or mental, would have the opportunity to show through music what they could not put into words.

Many disabled individuals would be able to show off their gifts and talents in ways not known to them before. We would be able to learn more about how the mind works in individuals like savants and others with abilities different from the majority. Their voices would be heard not as sick or disabled people, but as artists and creators.

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