Sixth Former Matt Park was named the first-place winner for his invention Hazel in the Stanley Black & Decker and Discovery Education 2021 Making for Good Challenge
, a competition for high school students across the U.S. that recognizes makers with innovative solutions to societal or environmental issues.
In recognition of his award, Matt received a $15,000 Grand Prize and a Stanley Black & Decker Prize Pack. And in a surprising turn of events, he graciously donated the full prize amount back to Westminster’s community partnership program Horizons at Westminster
, which provides a tuition-free academic and enrichment program for students in grades one through eight from under-resourced communities in Hartford.
Matt has been a volunteer in the program while a Westminster student, and the experience has meant a great deal to him. He created a series of science experiment videos for Horizons students titled “Science with Colors,” and he read to them. The first and second graders would clamor to be his reading buddy and to be paired with him to work on math skills.
In fact, it was Kathleen Devaney, executive director of Hartford Partnerships and Horizons at Westminster, who suggested to Matt that he enter the competition. She knows Matt well from having him in her Global History class when he was a Third Former and from his substantial volunteer work with Horizons at Westminster. She was also aware of his invention of Hazel. However, Kathleen had no idea, he intended to donate the award proceeds to Horizons at Westminster if he won.
“From when Ms. Devaney first introduced me to this competition, I had planned on donating this prize if I were to ever receive it,” said Matt. “Horizons has been special in that I was able to share my passion for science with younger students and spark their interest in it. I hope this prize can be used to support new STEM opportunities and experiments for the Horizons students. Also, without Ms. Devaney, I would not have had the opportunity to do these cool things, so I wanted to express my gratitude.”
“I was speechless when I learned of Matt’s selfless generosity,” said Kathleen. “To receive this gift for Horizons at Westminster is incredible. It will have a profound effect on the 60 first through fourth graders in our program this year, as we are responsible for raising the money to fund our budget every year. But beyond the considerable impact on our budget, Matt’s decision to support Horizons in this way is energizing, galvanizing and inspiring. As I told his parents, I could not be more thankful and more proud to have any association with him.”
Matt’s entry to the competition was a brief video about his invention Hazel, which is an olfactory mood enhancer and safety monitor to combat Kodokushi, a Korean and Japanese phenomenon of fatal accidents that happen when no one is around to call for help. Hazel also helps to maintain a person’s mental well-being. Intended to be used for seniors living alone, the device constantly detects their presence and analyzes their mood through user-friendly tarot card tags. In addition, the device uses the mood data to diffuse a personalized fragrance that creates a pleasant ambiance at home. Along with the score from the mood card, Hazel automatically gathers other mood-influential data such as a discomfort index and the current weather to choose from one of five aromas. To improve a user’s sleep patterns, Hazel also has an alarm system set by an LCD clock with a day and night alarm each diffusing refreshing peppermint and soothing lavender with natural sounds.
“My goal is to make Hazel a more personalized and accessible device that better understands the users to help improve their mood and look out for their safety,” said Matt, who was surprised to be the top prize winner. “I could not believe it at first. The award definitely gave me a lot of confidence to develop Hazel further and strengthened my interest in engineering, innovation and entrepreneurship. As I move on to major in electrical engineering at the University of Pennsylvania, I am so grateful to have a good start.”Read about Matt being named a national finalist in the 2020 U.S. National Chemistry Olympiad competition sponsored by the American Chemical Society.