WAUKESHA -- Starting with the whir of a 3D printer, it's clear that Waukesha S.T.E.M. Academy is not your typical middle school.
“They learn all kinds of things about product creation, marketing, development," said Dan Prothero, business education instructor.
And Jasmin Erickson and Julia Herod are not your typical students. The girls are freshmen in high school, but when they roamed the halls of the Saratoga campus, they were transformed into inventors and entrepreneurs.
“It’s something you created, and everybody is in love with it," said Erickson.
One of the programs at Waukesha S.T.E.M. challenges young minds to create and develop their own games. Erickson and Herod came up with Feel to Find, a sensory challenge for ages five and up.
"It’s different, and it’s just really fun to play," said Erickson.
Here's how it works: A number of items are placed in a box, and after they're given a prompt, competitors try to find that piece using only their sense of touch – learning along the way.
“Some people might not know the difference between a cylinder or sphere, and they can learn," said Herod.
As part of the program, the girls took Feel to Find to the Chicago Toy and Game Fair.
“It is a huge event. Students from all over the Midwest come and compete," said Prothero.
And in November, in front of judges and representatives from major toy companies, they walked away with first place in the Young Inventor Challenge.
"We were so surprised," said Herod.
"We were shocked! We didn't think we were going to win," said Erickson.
As part of their prize, they’ll attend the New York Toy Fair this weekend. After that, who knows?
“We hope to see this in stores and on shelves someday," said Herod.
“It’s about them deciding to pursue something they’re passionate about, and take it well beyond the four walls of a school," said Jim Murray, Waukesha S.T.E.M. principal.
This was actually the second time in the past three years that Waukesha S.T.E.M. students have taken home the first place trophy at the Chicago Toy and Game Fair.