Sure, it may look like an old desk lamp taped to a metal frame that holds a fan, a camera and a broken something-or-other — maybe a DVD player?
But what you're really looking at, said Upward Bound students from South Albany High School, is The Processor: the next revolution in egg incubation and lab research.
The desk lamp heats the eggs (lightbulb not included). The fan cools them. The camera records data and growth and sends it to the central processor. An umbrella (optional) provides extra cover.
Plus, as South junior Alex Mendoza demonstrated, the expandable frame holds eggs of any size, even ostrich.
"Dinosaur," proclaimed his teammate, sophomore Junior Santos.
The exercise in entrepreneurial energy, held Friday morning at Oregon State University, was meant to be fun: Grab a handful of junk and experiment with designing a product someone might want to buy.
But it was also meant to get the students thinking creatively, which is what makes a great entrepreneur, Oregon State University sophomore Calum Maloney told the group. And creative thinking is one of the things that will be necessary for the students' futures, whatever path they may take.
Upward Bound is about helping students plan for their future, specifically one that includes higher education in some form. A federally-funded academic program that's part of a group of programs known as TRiO, it's meant to make college more accessible, especially for students who may be the first in their families to go that far.
South Albany began its Upward Bound program this year, thanks to a five-year grant OSU received for $250,000 each year to provide it, plus strong support from Assistant Principal Nate Munoz.
"It was really Nate who was the driving force behind us," said Cody Yeager, the high school's program director. "He's been our greatest supporter."
Yeager started recruiting students this past fall and began the elective class in January. Her initial goal was 60 students. She now has 66 and a waiting list.
Upward Bound students spend a lot of time visiting various colleges, forging relationships with the people there and learning about the programs and resources they can tap to make that future possible. South's students have gone to Linn-Benton Community College and Western Oregon University, with the University of Oregon, Linfield College, Chemeketa Community College and the Oregon Coast Community College scheduled for the next few months.
This particular group has already visited OSU twice before, Yeager said, checking out the wave lab and the sheep barns on their last visit. This particular Friday, they came to check out the Maker's Lab and the Radiation Lab, as well as spending time playing Junkyard Wars in the entrepreneur classroom.
Maloney, the OSU business student, reminded the Upward Bound group their inventions didn't actually have to work — just be inventive. "You're going to make this product awesome," he promised.
Mendoza, Santos, Selena Segrest, Pedro Segura and Denzel Ruiz worked together to create The Processor, then showed off its various parts to the rest of the group.
Maloney wanted to know how they'd sell it. "At Wal-Mart — for a couple million," Santos joked.
"I don't know if my chickens are worth it," Maloney told them, laughing.
Friday's trip to OSU was worth it, however, at least to Santos, who said the experience has been his favorite with Upward Bound so far. "We can cooperate with each other to make something new," he explained.
Mendoza said he had been considering college plans anyway, but being in Upward Bound has helped him, at least somewhat.
"It tells you about the goals and stuff, and how to plan it," he said.