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Sage Creek SWENext Club: Designing the Future, Winning Today!

Inside the Sage Creek SWENext Club's Duckie Success Story
Sage Creek SWENext Club members

Congratulations to the 2023 Jacobs Teen Innovation Challenge team, SWENext Sage Creek, for placing fourth out of 2,900 students from 18 countries. This annual worldwide event is open to middle- and high-school students, and the 2024 Jacobs Teen Innovation Challenge will begin on Jan. 10, 2024, with the final pitch due April 30.

The Sage Creek High School SWENext team, consisting of Sophia G. and Erin O., designed and presented the project “Duckie: a Chromebook Extension for ADHD Students.” Watch their winning Duckie pitch here. Let’s meet the masterminds:

Sophia, a junior, is the founding president of Sage Creek SWENext Club, branch coordinator and hardware engineer of her robotics team Crow Force, a SWE UCSD Empowering & Development for Girls in Engineering (EDGE) mentee, and ASB store lead. She aspires to become an aerospace engineer one day and become a role model for other young girls like her.

Erin, a junior, is the Sage Creek SWENext Club VP and excels in the PLTW Engineering Pathway. She is a hardware engineer and principal rule keeper of her robotics team, Crow Force, and has been a mentee in the UCSD EDGE since her freshman year. She seeks a degree in mechanical or aerospace engineering hoping to use her love for hands-on work in a career.

The following is an interview with Sophia and Erin by their SWE Counselor Debra Kimberling:

Tell Us More About Duckie!

Duckie Chromebook Extension logoSince COVID-19, schools across the globe shifted to relying on online learning, which impacted students from elementary to college. Recognizing the added challenges faced by those with attention disorders like ADHD, we were inspired to create a virtual support system.

We saw how Chromebooks were integrated into our district from second grade, and so we decided to create Duckie. Duckie is a Chromebook extension that fosters productivity, organization, and time management for students with ADHD.

Duckie monitors progress, breaks work into time blocks, incorporates motivating games, and features duck characters offering empowering messages. Tokens earned for productive work serve as positive reinforcement, creating a tailored, virtual support system for students with ADHD in the online learning landscape.

Can You Tell Us More About the JTIC Challenge Itself?

The Jacobs Teen Innovation Challenge is a worldwide event where teens and teachers develop socially beneficial solutions using design thinking, aligned with the 17 United Nations Global Goals. It’s free to participate, and winning teams receive various awards, including monetary prizes for different categories. An educator is required to formally sign up for the challenge.

Though this contest proved to be a big success for our team, there were challenges we faced that future teams should keep in mind. For one, since we joined two months late due to unawareness of the competition, our time was cut short, and we had to rush many of our responses. While we still put complete effort into our submission, we know we could’ve done better. That is why we want to inform others about the challenge early on and give others enough time for all the work that comes with the application.

In addition, the video submitted with the project is just as important, if not more, than all the written responses. Put time into your script, how you present, and what it is you share.

Receiving fourth place was a huge surprise for us, especially given the immense pool of applications; but if it was possible for us, it is possible for you! With an original idea and thoughtful responses, placing is possible, and I encourage all students to try and apply for this. It was an amazing opportunity and such a great experience for us to be a part of.

What Did You Do With the Challenge Winnings?

We donated the prize money of $250 to the Akilah Institute of Women. We are very grateful to help fund an organization that supports the education of hundreds of West African women. It means a lot to us to support other women, and this was a great opportunity to show our support and give them what we could.

What Are Your Plans for the Future?

We have accomplished so much already in growing our project. After initially winning the Cal Poly SWE design challenge (shoutout to SWE for this opportunity), we entered the JTIC and placed fourth. After the encouragement from ranking so high in the JTIC, we entered Duckie into T-Mobile’s Changemaker Challenge. We were finalists and received $5,000 in seed money.

So, our next steps are to start beta testing and preparing Duckie for the market. We are incredibly grateful for design competitions like the JTIC, which were great opportunities to develop and present the prototype we created and helped us realize the impact this idea will have, motivating us to continue working on it.

Any Last Words?

We want to thank SWE for all the support and encouragement. Thank you specifically to the Cal Poly SWE design challenge, where we first pulled together our project concept and placed first in the 2023 challenge. It was there that we gained the confidence to enter the JTIC.

In addition, we want to thank everyone who has supported us along the way. A special thanks to our parents for traveling with us to all these design competitions and helping us every step in this journey. Thank you to our advisor, Lynette Nicolas, for continuously supporting us and giving us so much advice, allowing us to get where we are today.

Thank you to Shayne Conner, who showed us the Cal Poly SWE design challenge. Thank you, of course, to the Jacobs Teen Innovation Challenge itself for seeing our project and recognizing us. And finally, a special thank you to SWENext — specifically SWE San Diego and our SWE Counselor Debra Kimberling — for introducing us to the competition. We couldn’t be here without you all! You can reach us at


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