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What's Your Big Idea contest award ceremony 2024 at UTA
Posted in on April 30, 2024

What’s Your Big Idea? 2024

Bailey Junior High eighth grader Darius Turner wants to be an entrepreneur.

Even before he and his mom received an email asking for entries for the 18th Annual What’s Your Big Idea?” contest – sponsored by Arlington ISD and the Greater Arlington Area Chamber of Commerce – he was already hard at work on his big idea.

The idea?

Electronic garage door opener.

While that sounds like a well-used invention, consider that Turner’s electronic door opener does not require the driver to click a button to open the doors.

“You just pull right up, and the door opens,” Turner said. “You don’t have to click on anything.”

Like a toll tag opening the gates to, say, DFW Airport.

“This way, you don’t have to find your clicker and click on it,” Turner said. “You just drive right up without even thinking about it.”

Turner didn’t have a name for his invention – although he already had the name of the company he’d used for future entrepreneurship endeavors.

Turner’s no-name electronic door opener was just one of many offered Saturday at UTA’s College Park Center. The 7,000-seat arena was packed with Arlington ISD students who came up with various inventions, from shoes that walk themselves (“works great when you are tired”) and a bike lock that doubles as a phone holder.

 Hundreds of Arlington ISD students in grades three through eight were recognized for a wide range of innovative ideas. Students could answer the essay prompt, “What’s your creative idea for a product you could sell or a business you could create and operate in Arlington?” Or, in art form, create an advertisement for a product you could sell or a business you could own and operate in Arlington.

They had to remember the following questions: What do you sell? Who is the customer? Why is the idea unique? How would it be marketed and managed?

Dr. Smith speaks at the What's Your Big Idea? contest awards ceremony - 2024Finalists from each grade and category were revealed the during the award ceremony. After their names were called, finalists strolled gleefully across the stage to shake hands – or give high fives – to dignitaries like Arlington ISD superintendent Dr. Matt Smith, district trustees, Arlington mayor Jim Ross, and Chamber president and CEO Michael Jacobson.

Then, the top three winners in those grades and categories were called back on stage to receive a prize package.

First-place winners earned scholarships to attend the exclusive one-week “The BIG Idea Lab” summer camp. At this camp, students learn what it means to be an entrepreneur and expand upon their winning ideas in front of local entrepreneurs.

Butler, Corey Academy, Ditto, Little, Moore and Wood were elementary schools with high participation numbers. Bailey, Ousley and Shackelford topped junior high schools.

“This is my first “What’s Your Big Idea” event,” said Smith. “I am really excited about this event because while we are all up here partnering together to do amazing things for kids, we are here today to recognize that hard work.”

Chloe Lewis, who earned an MBA at UTA, was the day’s emcee and opened the event by encouraging participants to “Believe in yourself and your ideas. Trust yourself to take risks. Entrepreneurs are so important to our community. You can be an entrepreneur in any industry. Restaurants, athletics. Real estate. Gift shop. A rock-climbing place. So many places. It’s small business owners that make our community what it is. You are the future of our city, and we are so proud to honor you today.”

Ross also gave some inspirational messages telling the audience, “This is one of my favorite days,” he said. “Coming out to see the young, bright minds of Arlington put their thoughts to come up with unbelievable concepts on big ideas, it’s just great.”

He also pointed out to the students sitting in the arena that by the time they graduate from high school, “80 teachers would have played a role in your life,” he said. “Think of your science teacher, art teacher, music teacher, gym teacher, math teacher, everything. Those teachers are a part of your life that make you who you are today.”

Turner, the Bailey garage door opener inventor, is on his way. After Bailey, he’s headed to Seguin High School’s P-Tech program, which allows students to focus on engineering and computer-aided drafting and design.

When asked why he wanted to be an entrepreneur, Turner quickly replied, “I want to make my own rules.”