Excited young inventors from the South Bay filled the Torrance High School Auditorium to celebrate their accomplishments on Saturday, March 13, 2022 as the Torrance Refining Company LLC (TORC) presented the South Bay Regional Invention Convention (SBRIC) Awards Night in partnership with the Torrance Unified School District (TUSD). SBRIC sparked student creativity, curiosity, and problem-solving skills, with the aspiring inventors applying their Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Medical (STEAM) knowledge to develop and showcase their inventions.

In his opening remarks, Torrance Refinery Manager Jerry Forstell mentioned the company’s eagerness to support this stimulating event because offering students early hands-on experiences to shape critical thinking and decision-making will help them prepare to pursue future careers in STEAM disciplines.

About 200 students ranging from transitional kindergarten through high school from Torrance, Palos Verdes Peninsula, Redondo Beach and Manhattan Beach school districts entered the competition showcasing imaginative inventions such as a flowering toothbrush, calm robot, double-handled umbrella, and safety equipment for kids.

Volunteers from California State University Dominguez Hills and other organizations joined a team of TORC employees, spending hours judging display boards, invention logs, and inspecting prototypes of incredible products.

Arnold Elementary first-grader Rose Kilpatrick won Third Place for her invention “Help for Kids” – a walking pole that promotes safety for kids crossing the street. TORC Senior Safety Specialist Vanessa Franco who served as a volunteer judge noted, “Every day I strive to help our team focus on putting safety into everything we do. Safety is a value we instill and encourage everyone to apply, even outside of work. I was excited to see young minds embrace the concept of safety as a way to help others and see them invent creative tools to promote it. As a mother of two young children, this is definitely something I try to teach my kids – being safe helps you and also helps others.”

Refinery Business Team Lead Heather Shohet was impressed by the students’ creativity and innovation. “I enjoyed hearing about the hard work that went into their projects during the interview portion. I wish I had the opportunity to participate in a science fair like this as a child – that’s why I volunteered. Now as an engineer, I believe it’s important to encourage young children, especially females, to explore their scientific curiosity. This activity provides that opportunity, and I hope the experience has given them the confidence to know that a career in science, math, or engineering is an option for them later in life.”

Students in each grade level were awarded a plaque and special prizes from sponsors. Winners from each invention category were also recognized. Anza Elementary School student Liam Matsukama received the Energy Award, presented by TORC Community Relations Manager Barbara Graham, for his proposed solution to help provide showers for the unhoused. “I am very honored to receive the Energy Award from Torrance Refinery,” said Liam. “Receiving this award has given me courage to study science even harder. I would like to learn more about the science that my invention involves, so that it will be easily available for those who need it.

The top 53 South Bay inventors now advance to the state level California Invention Convention in April. We commend all the young inventors who participated in the competition, and congratulate the winners, wishing them the best of luck at the state competition.

Watch this video to learn more or visit the California Invention Convention website here.