State College of Florida Collegiate School students advance to regional Bright House Bright Ideas competition

BRADENTON -- With grand plans to cut down on the time it takes wandering grocery store aisles to creating water bottles that tell you when the water becomes unsafe, five student projects from the State College of Florida Collegiate School are headed to Tampa Tuesday to compete with students across the region.

Countywide projects in the annual Bright House Bright Ideas competition were whittled down last week to the five Manatee County finalists from the State College of Florida Collegiate School. On Tuesday, the students will compete at the regional level, at the Museum of Science and Industry in Tampa.

Students from Pinellas, Citrus, Polk, Pasco, and Hills

borough counties are also part of the competition. One winner will be selected to represent Tampa Bay in the final round of competition, where one finalist from each of Bright House Networks six service areas will be selected to compete at the national competition. These six finalists will travel to Orlando, and compete in front of a studio audience. The grand prize winner will have the chance to work with a leading innovation firm to build a virtual prototype and a business plan.

The competition was integrated directly into the classroom for students in Deane Western's class at the SCF Collegiate School, a public charter school in Manatee County. Five of his students are advancing.

Here are the winning student projects:

Haley Royce, a 16-year-old sophomore from Ellenton, created "TIPP," which stands for thermometric indicator for perishable products. Her idea would help people know whether perishable food cans have spoiled and become unsafe.

"It's an alert that the food have been exposed to unsafe temperatures and they have been exposed to bacteria," Royce said.

Jazmyn Bortz, a 15-year-old sophomore from Parrish, created "College Cash," an app that aims to help college students manage their money more effectively. She got the idea from a friend in college. "He was careless with his paychecks, so when his car broke down his mom had to pay for it and drive him around," she said.

Miriana Regis, a 15-year-old sophomore from Bradenton, created "True Vital," an app that tracks blood pressure, blood sugar and heart rate. Regis' family has a history of health problems, she said.

Alexis Caldwell, a 14-year-old freshman from Bradenton, created a "Smart Bottle," pulling on her own bad experiences with water that had been sitting in the sun too long. The bottle will either change colors or have some other indicators when the water has become too hot, and the bottle may be unsafe. "My mom has told me over and over again about drinking too hot water," Caldwell said.

Xavier Almeyda, a 16-year-old senior from Venice, created "Aisle FindIt," which would integrate grocery store shelving plans to help users get in and out of grocery stores faster, by helping them find specific items in precise locations. He was inspired by his mom. "My mom is always wandering the grocery store," he said.

The students pitch their idea to a panel of judges and the judges are able to quiz the students on how their product would work, who the goal consumer would be, and how much it would cost to produce. The students were divided on which area made them more nervous. "The questioning part is the hardest part of it," said Caldwell.

Royce is going to focus on her delivery.

"I'm going to practice my pitch. A lot," she said last week.

Although there's more competition at the Tampa Bay level, Almeyda said the excitement factor has also increased.

"I do think it's going to be a tough competition," he said.

Meghin Delaney, education reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7081. Follow her on Twitter @MeghinDelaney.