Invention takes Shawsheen students to San Diego

Madison Shipka, (right) junior at Shawsheen Technical regional High school presented at the Media, Technology and Commerce Expo in California and Brayden Taylor (left), a sophomore, also presented.

Four students from Shawsheen Tech - Madison Shipka, Brayden Taylor, Matt Canadas, and Drew Miller - got together last year to create Flashing Floral Lights, an audio and visual system for floral arrangements, providing users with selectable constant colors to the arrangement while offering the option to change colors to the rhythm of the music. The system allows for customization of the floral arrangement to coincide with the theme of a wedding, birthday party and other events.

The product has been so successful that the students made the trip to San Diego recently to participate in the MTC Expo and were even interviewed on local San Diego news and in the San Diego Union-Tribune.

The students, from Burlington, Billerica and Wilmington, in an email, said about the experience: “The MTC Expo was an amazing experience and we learned so much from it. We learned what inventors do and go through to get their products viewed by the general public. Being on the news and in the San Diego Union-Tribune was amazing because we never thought we could get this much publicity.”

It all started with the help of former Shawsheen Tech teacher Paul Blanchette. When he announced last year that he would be taking an early retirement, Shipka came to him with the idea for Flashing Floral Lights.

“I was excited about her idea,” Blanchette remarked, “and I suggested that she recruit a few other kids to work with us.”

Those “other kids” turned out to be Taylor, Canadas and Miller. Blanchette said that he also wanted to set up a meeting with Shipka’s mother to make sure that they had the mother’s support. In fact, Blanchette made sure all the parents were on board before they proceeded to meet with a lawyer to begin the process of creating a legal company, which they named MPD Innovations, LLC.

Because of the kids’ ages, the parents needed to sign off on everything. Once all that took place, the real fun could begin of developing the product.

Shipka said she came up with the name, as she works as a florist, and all the students have worked with sound-to-light converters.

“Flashing Flora was actually thought of because we talked with another student whose mother works as a florist,” the students wrote in the email. “She thought Flashing Flora would be worthwhile, and after talking with a marketing company, they thought it would be a big hit as well.”

The students said they checked all over the Internet before they went into prototyping stages and saw “there wasn’t anything that was like our idea for Flora.” They added that the idea for the user color option actually came first before they did most of their research.

While working on the project, Blanchette said that Shipka had the idea of starting an independent robotics team as an extra activity for fun.

“We wanted to start a robotics team outside of the school, so when this was a possible option all of us jumped on board,” Shipka noted.

“She related the robotics team to a company creating a bowling team to help employees relieve stress,” Blanchette stated. “I agreed to help them but I never thought that they could come up with the money needed for a competition robotics team. They proved me wrong!”

He noted how the students solicited donations for the required parts and even cleaned out a person’s basement and sold the items that they found. He said they raised a few thousand dollars over the course of a few months. Not to mention that this was going on while the students were still working on the Flora project, going to school and working their part-time jobs.

“And they paid for everything,” Blanchette stressed (except he noted they were short $7 for the championship registration fee).

The students mentioned that inventing involves a lot of trial and error.

“We took most of our summer to perfect the idea for Flora. Marketing was interesting because we found out what people were interested in and how we could improve Flora. It was pretty awesome to see the legal process behind it and all of the work involved, as well.”

Blanchette said the students have met with a local business lawyer, communicated with IP (Intellectual Property) patent attorney in New Jersey and have communicated with a marketing company in Philadelphia.

“When they were invited to present their ideas at the inventors convention in San Diego,” he stated, “they designed and built the display that they used. They received a Provisional Patent for their invention on Nov. 15, 2017 and are currently working with the patent attorney on a utility patent. They are also working on a trademark for the Flashing Flora name.”

When asked who would want/benefit from this product, the students explained that they’re marketing it toward florists, party/wedding planners and even individual people who have kids, a family member in the hospital or those who throw parties of their own.

“We have a few companies interested,” they noted, “but no final deals.”

The students also admitted how difficult the entire ordeal has been, from coming up with an idea, to going through the legal process to get it patented and marketing it.

“The most spectacular thing is how fast everything took off and how many people have helped us achieve our goals.”

One of those goals involves finding someone interested enough to license the product or “help us manufacture Flora.”

With the success of their first invention, the students aren’t planning to rest on that idea alone. Shipka said they’re already working on a new idea for a tool that would help field service engineers.

“These kids are true entrepreneurs!” Blanchette acknowledged. “And they know the meaning of hard work and time management. They are also thinking into the future.”

He mentioned how the students came up with the idea for their second product at the expo in San Diego.

“We needed to repair one of the prototypes that had gotten damaged. Shipka came up with an idea for a tool that would assist field service technicians. When we returned we talked about her idea with a couple of experts in the field and found out that they felt her idea had merit. So, while waiting for the final utility patent for Flashing Flora to be approved, the kids will be starting to work on their new invention.”

About Flashing Floral Lights

The product provides a self-contained base for floral arrangement vases with light emitting diodes that offer the capability of providing a user-selectable constant color for the arrangement and the option to change the colors to match the rhythm of music or sound.

It utilizes Bluetooth 4.0 technology when operated in the sound mode and incorporates a Bluetooth 4.0 receiver that is capable of connecting with any Bluetooth enabled device, such as a smartphone or tablet.

It offers the capability of interfacing the unit with sound equipment used by musical bands as well as systems used by DJs. It allows the user to customized the floral arrangement to coincide with the color theme of the occasion.

It utilizes a polystyrene lens to allow the different colors of the light emitting diodes to blend together and create a natural looking color.

Although there are similar products on the market, Flashing Floral Lights provides the user the option of selecting what colors are displayed. The other products don’t allow for the use with floral arrangements within a clear vase.

Flashing Floral Lights will accommodate floral vases with a base size up to six-inches and is capable of supporting a weight of several pounds. Exact size, measurement, construction, and design specifications may vary upon further development and manufacturing.

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