Hopkins pitches the Vendo-bot for Energizer's Join Our Journey contest

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The Energizer Bunny recently made Tillsonburg's Hannah Hopkins a 'Join Our Journey' offer she couldn't refuse.

Energizer asked Canadian parents of children ages 5-12 to submit their child's most creative creature for the chance to see it become a toy. The winning submission would receive $10,000 toward their education, with second place getting a similar $5,000 award.

Hannah, who was shown contest details by her mother Nicole, was eager to give it a shot.

"I decided to create a robot type of machine because I like science," said Hannah.

Her younger sister, Courtney, also entered the contest, which opened in February with a May 6 deadline for submissions.

"I had a lot of them," said Courtney. "We did Poppy the Popcorn or something..."

"And Pizza Guy and Butterfly," Nicole smiled.

Round 1 was a call for entries, which was narrowed down to 10 semifinalists who were required to make a video pitch to judges. The five best entries – including Hannah's – became finalists, moving to a public voting stage to help determine the winners. The four other finalists are from Sydney (Nova Scotia), Guelph, Barrie, and Rosemere, Quebec.

"I was really surprised," said Hannah. "I kind of forgot that I submitted this after a while because it was a long time before I got the news. And then when I heard about it, that I got to the next round, I was really excited. I got to the Top 10 in all of Canada. I was pretty excited that they liked my idea."

The grand prize winner will be selected through a combination of online public voting (50 per cent), clear expression of the idea/concept (25 per cent), and enthusiasm (25 per cent).

Hannah and her family are hoping for support from Tillsonburg and area – and anyone connected through Facebook – in the public voting stage, which continues until June 26. The grand prize winner will be announced July 6.

On Facebook, the link is http://bit.ly/1GBnq5k.

"My mom has been sharing it and my friends who have Facebook and I've shared it," said Hannah. "I've been asking people at school to share it. And anyone I really know, and I've messaged people to 'vote for me please.' And we named an event and invited everyone.

"Most of my friends have been voting a lot. I feel like it's been going good so far. I've seen a lot of my friends sharing it on Facebook."

When you vote on Facebook, a popup will follow after hitting the 'VOTE' button. Sharing is not required, but the popup was included if people would like to help generate more votes for their favourite finalist.

Anyone can vote once a day (once per 24 hours). For each vote, Energizer will donate $2 to Actua up to a total of $5,000. Actua is Canadian charitable organization that delivers science, engineering and technology educational programs to more than 200,000 young people annually.

"I thought maybe we should talk about why I should win," said Hannah, recalling the creation of her two-minute video, "so I did some research about some of the ideas that we talked about, and then I came across STEM."

While researching STEM, she discovered different science camps and opportunities in the area, including a camp at University of Waterloo.

"(STEM) stands for science, technology, engineering and math – and I'm kind of interested in those subjects," said Hannah. "There are groups that try to get people into something like science, technology and all those subjects."

"Even if she doesn't win, it's still an accomplishment being able to raise money for Actua," said Nicole. "It's a good cause – this money will go to Actua who then create programs for these children to experience these camps."

Hannah talks about STEM, and how she was inspired by her science teacher, Miss VanDaele at Monsignor JH O'Neil.

"She always talks about how our grades matter," said Hannah. "When you grow up, you have to know what you want to be so then you can plan before – you can get good grades and know what courses to take in high school and college. So she inspired me to look at colleges, look at where I want to be in the future, and kind of think about that... more than I was."

If she had a choice between seeing Vendo-Bot become a toy, and the $10,000 RESP, Hannah said she was more interested in the RESP.

"It would be really cool to actually help make that (into a toy), but I think I would rather have the $10,000 prize. It would go towards my education to get a job in the future."

VENDO-BOT

A unique toy idea, Hannah said she hasn't really seen anything like the Vendo-Bot.

"I think it took about two days – around there – to come up with the idea," said Hannah, who chose the Vendo-Bot over her Tooth Time idea, which they saw online had already been developed.

"I couldn't really think of any ideas then it kind of just hit me while I was sleeping. I thought, why not doing something that everyone would like? So the robot is kind for the younger ages, and the vending machine can hold gum, treats... or something like that."

The winner will have the opportunity to work with a team of STEM experts at 3D Phacktory to bring their creature to life as a battery-powered toy using recycled components, plus a $10,000 contribution toward a Registered Education Savings Plan.

JOIN OUR JOURNEY

The Energizer Facebook contest was designed to harness the creativity and imagination of Canadian children and foster an early interest in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). The “Join Our Journey” contest celebrates Energizer’s latest groundbreaking achievement, the Energizer EcoAdvanced battery, the world’s first long lasting, high-performance AA battery made with four per cent recycled batteries. To ensure this kind of innovation in the future, Energizer hopes to make STEM fun and accessible to children, exposing them to the possibilities those subjects provide.

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