Julia Luetje entered her Storm Sleeper in the contest, which recognizes students’ boundless imagination and creativity in “dreamventing” solutions to everyday problems. Julia’s invention was one of five chosen from 13,000 submissions from across the country. Those finalists will compete for America’s votes to win the grand prize of $250,000.
Julia is the only finalist not just from Kansas City, but also throughout the entire region. Other finalists are from Texas, Indiana, New York and Massachusetts. She said she was surprised to learn she had been selected during a trip to Austin, Texas, with her parents, Chucker Luetje and Susan Bernstein ‘88.
“They already knew, but I didn’t and when we walked into this room, everyone started clapping and cheering,” she said. “I was so happy to be a finalist.”
FROM INSPIRATION TO INNOVATION
Julia came up with the idea for her invention during a thunderstorm, when she used pillows to muffle the rumble outside. Her Storm Sleeper design consisted of pillows supported by fabric at the top along with Bluetooth speakers inside that play soothing music.
Her original version has now been turned into a prototype by Mako Design + Invent. Her Dreamvention description reads, “Next time a thunderstorm keeps you awake, just slide your head right into the Storm Sleeper, a fort-style pillow complete with light and speakers. Perfect for sleeping or reading peacefully.”
During the finalist announcement,
a Dreamvention representative said, “You are the innovators of tomorrow. You looked around the world and said, ‘How can I make it a better place?’”
“A lot of people have mentioned the impact this could have not just for people who don’t like storms, but for people with all kinds of sensory sensitivity or even for pets,” Bernstein said. Julia definitely sees that potential.
“My invention can really help people if you’re afraid of storms, but also if you have loud siblings, pets or parents who snore,” she said.
Julia’s mom said her daughter took the initiative to enter the contest on her own after learning about it while watching the “Ellen” show.
“For us, it shows her perseverance, initiative and her belief in her invention.”