Clay students capture top award at annual WV Makes Festival

Clay County Middle School students Madison Paxton & Dillon McCumbers captured top honors in the youth design challenge during the West Virginia Makes Festival Oct. 4 at Marshall University in Huntington.

The pair bested students from across West Virginia and southern Ohio to win Best of Show (the Toyota WV Innovative Spirit Award) during the festival sponsored by the Robert C. Byrd Institute (RCBI). Paxton and McCumbers’s winning entry was a biodegradable cup with an inverted paper lid developed to reduce plastic pollution in the world’s oceans.

As winners, they received a trophy, $250 cash award and virtual reality goggles.

Runners-up in the youth category were Abigail Hogsett from the Explorer Academy in Huntington for the Pocket Bow, a hair bow with a hidden compartment; Annabelle Ward and Liam Smith from the Explorer Academy in Huntington for Cereal, a specialty sifter; Bella Schrader, Sara Loftus, Neil Loftus, Mykayla Cassity, Maggie Piaskowski and Brad Jones from the Tri-State STEM+M Early College High School in South Point, Ohio, for the Virtual Reality Experience: the Marianas Trench, an interactive exhibit providing facts about different marine wildlife. The team from the STEM+M also won the People’s Choice Award.

Top prize in the adult category went to Aaron Roma of Milton for Ziggy Full Body 3D Scanner, a life-size multi-camera body scanner. Adult runners-up were Joshua Campbell of Salt Rock for Key Bread, a gluten-free Keto diet friendly bread mix; Roger Edoria of Martinsburg for Whispering Pillow, a travel pillow with soothing sounds of nature, Bluetooth capabilities and a built-in alarm; and Tony Wheeler of Huntington for EZlit Plug-N-Play Electrical System, a do-it-yourself electrical system that allows non-electricians to safely install electronic signs.

More than 1,500 people attended RCBI’s sixth annual West Virginia Makes Festival, a celebration of creativity and ingenuity in all their forms. Artisans, inventors, hobbyists and students from West Virginia and beyond demonstrated their creations during the event on Marshall’s Memorial Student Center Plaza.

The festival also featured demonstrations of robots, 3D printers, lasers and other innovative technologies, special exhibits, hands-on activities and live musical performances. WV Makes was made possible through the support of the Cabell-Huntington Convention & Visitors Bureau, CART (Center for Applied Research and Technology), Charleston Area Alliance, Chase Bank, Edward Tucker Architects, the Huntington Area Development Council (HADCO), the Marshall University Research Corporation, Sterling Supply Company, Stites & Harbison PLLC, Suddenlink by Altice, Toyota Motor Manufacturing West Virginia, CBS ArcSafe and ZEISS.