Putnam students put product creation idea into action
By Denise Coffey - Staff Writer
Putnam - posted Mon., Jun. 10, 2013
Putnam High School students in Amy Beth St. Martin's marketing class topped off their semester by winning the Founder's Award at the 10th Annual High School Manufacturing Expo in May. In the space of four and a half months, the Putnam students were able to go from concept to completion of a product ready for sale. Along the way, the students put together a website, a two-minute commercial and an engineering notebook, and they promoted the product on Facebook and Twitter.
“It's a real-life opportunity for the kids to work as a team,” said St. Martin. “They had hands-on experience working with community members and businesses. They were able to create a product from scratch, and they learned to compromise.”
Their creation was Safe Straight, a fire-resistant holder for curling and straightening irons. They came up with the idea after meeting with the companies they were paired up with. Putnam Precision Molding makes custom molded injection parts. Unicorr Packaging creates custom packaging solutions. After tossing around several ideas at a brainstorming session, including a cell phone case, a board game, cleat covers and a universal clip, the team settled on a virtual hotplate for curling and straightening irons.
There were multiple phases to their project. Putnam Fire Marshal Norm Perron talked with the students. They combed the Internet for articles on fires caused by curling irons, pulling information from MSN.com, The Nursing Times and fire safety websites. They developed one prototype after another until settling on the sixth one. They created a website and had a team of self described “social media addicts” update information and conduct marketing blitzes. Bryan Clifford designed the Facebook page. “For a while I didn't have regular twitter on my phone. I just had the Safe Straight one,” he said.
Some students wrote a script for a two-minute, 22-second commercial that Connor McNulty produced, filmed and edited. They even went so far as to create an outdoor set that they could – and did - set on fire. Putnam fire personnel were on hand to watch that episode with fire extinguishers in hand.
Packaging had to be created for the product, a name selected, and colors chosen. Display cases, fliers, order forms and even an advertising sandwich board were made up. And every step along the way was recorded in the pages, filling the thick binder they brought with them to the Expo. Inside were flow charts, descriptions of products, and their reasons for choosing each of the materials they did such as the foam packaging and regrind Aurum.
“It was a lot of work,” St. Martin said. “They worked as a team. It was hard at first, but they all did something with their strengths and interests.”
The students elected Alec Fontaine as the project manager. Fontaine, McNulty and Ryan Stock gave the 20-minute presentation at the Expo. “We tried to make it interactive,” Fontaine said. The three claimed that their faith in the product made it easier for them. Fontaine even purchased two of the products for his sisters.