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Winners in Smithsonian-ePals(R) Global Kids Invention Challenge Include Young Innovators From Around the World

Students From Turkey, India, Canada, Taiwan, France, the U.S. and Other Countries Recognized for Top Inventions That Solve Real-World Problems in Second Annual K-12 Invent It! Challenge

WASHINGTON, DC -- (Marketwire) -- 02/05/13 -- ePals Corporation (TSX VENTURE: SLN), an education media company and the world's leading Global Education Network, and the Smithsonian's Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation's Spark!Lab, are happy to announce today the 26 student winners and runners up in the 2012 Invent It! Challenge contest.

Students were challenged to come up with solutions to problems in their schools, to improve on inventions being used in their schools, or to invent solutions for larger real-world problems that exist today.

A Sampling of Winning Inventions
Winners and runners up were chosen from among hundreds of entries across different categories and age groups, all of which are highlighted at www.ePals.com, and include:

  • A 13-year-old boy from Chapel Hill, N.C., and his construction of a portable transport vehicle for children and elderly refugees who must flee conflict and famine -- that could save lives the world over;

  • A 9-year-old Mississippi girl's prototype of a purse that has a solar-powered light inside, brightening the chances of finding your house keys;

  • A 16-year-old girl from Indiana's development of an interactive homework-help 'app' for smartphones and handheld devices;

  • A 6-year-old child from Pennsylvania's "turbo skraper" to make snow and ice removal from a car windshield easier than ever;

  • A 9-year-old New Jersey girl, affected by her grandfather's Parkinson's, invented a "sand sleeve" that is a wrist guard with sand in it, the weight of which steadies her grandfather's hand so he can sign his name.

This year's entries reflect an awareness of academic, environmental and practical issues, and also show a deep understanding and empathy for those in different circumstances, such as the elderly and people facing war and conflict, say experts in inventions and global innovation. A social media campaign was added to this year's voting process, with ePals Choice nominees given two weeks to reach out and solicit votes for their projects. Thousands of people from around the world weighed in with their choices.

"Inventions are an important driver in advancing economies around the world and in addressing some of the more difficult issues we face as citizens of planet Earth," said John Kao, Chairman of the Institute for Large Scale Innovation and author of the book, Innovation Nation. "It's 'seriously amazing' to see these young people's innovative concepts, and organizations like the Smithsonian Institution, the Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation, and ePals should be commended for encouraging and recognizing creativity in our youth."

"We're excited about the interest and participation throughout the global education community in this year's Challenge," says Claudine Brown, Smithsonian Assistant Secretary for Education and Access. "We saw a 6-fold increase over last year in the number of submissions. The creativity demonstrated by the students and the quality of their inventions were outstanding. We are committed to bringing the vast resources of the Smithsonian to connect educators and children and to reach across borders through these types of learning opportunities that spark creativity among the next generation of innovators."

Patent Applications among Prizes
Prizes for selected winners in different categories include patent applications, which will be evaluated by the law firm Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough, LLP. Former U.S. Secretary of Education Richard W. Riley and Neil Jones, senior partners with the firm, lauded the program:

"We are pleased to participate pro bono in events that encourage young inventors and entrepreneurs," Riley said. "These young people will be treated like our most important corporate clients who entrust us to protect their intellectual property. They will interact with our patent attorneys and will come away with a sense of what it means to be part of our great American innovative landscape." According to Jones, "Our preliminary analysis suggests several may qualify for patent protection. We intend to conduct a patentability analysis and, as appropriate, file patent applications on their behalf."

Other prizes include LEGO sets, scholarships to Invent Now Inc.'s Camp Invention, class participation in a video chat with an inventor from the Lemelson Center, and more. Prizes are provided by sponsors, including LEGO and the Nelson Mullins law firm.

Check out the full list of winners and runners up, and all of the Invent It! Challenge entries: http://en.community.epals.com/smithsonian_on_epals/p/inventionchallenge2012winners.aspx

About ePals Corporation
ePals Corporation (TSX VENTURE: SLN) is an education media company and the leading Global Learning Network. Focused on the K-12 market, ePals offers elementary and secondary school administrators, teachers, students and parents worldwide a safe and secure platform for building educational communities, providing quality digital content and facilitating collaboration for effective 21st century learning. ePals' award-winning products include: the ePals Global Community®; Learn365™; In2Books®, a common core eMentoring program that builds reading, writing and critical thinking skills; and popular children's educational publishing brands including Cricket® and Cobblestone®. ePals customers and partners include the International Baccalaureate, Microsoft Corporation, Dell Inc., IBM Corp., National Geographic and leading school districts across the United States and globally. ePals serves approximately 1 million classrooms and reaches millions of teachers, students and parents in approximately 200 countries and territories. Visit www.epals.com. For In2Books, visit www.In2Books.com.

About Spark!Lab
Spark!Lab is a hands-on invention activity space that is part of the Jerome and Dorothy Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation (http://invention.smithsonian.org/home/) at the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History. The center's mission is to document, interpret, and disseminate information about invention and innovation, to encourage creativity in young people, and to foster an appreciation for the central role of invention and innovation in the history of the United States. Spark!Lab is currently closed for renovations and will reopen in 2015.

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For media inquiries please contact:

Susan McLester
ePals Media Relations
Phone: (510) 914-2692

Will Jarred
SVP, Marketing & Corporate Communications
Phone: (703) 885-3400

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