Lewis entered his invention in the Disney “Big Hero 6” XPRIZE Challenge. Disney recently named him one of six winners.
Lewis said his invention took months of planning and testing.
“I spent a week poking around the internet for possible solutions before I found the Xcaper smoke mask,” he said. “Developing and testing for handheld projectiles took about two months, and that is where I put in a lot of the work.”
Charlene Anderson, a consultant with the XPRIZE Foundation, said the competition was designed to give children a chance to enter a competition similar to those available to adults and corporations.
“This competition was open to kids from age 8 to 17 to come up with their own choice for a grand challenge that would change the world,” Anderson said.
She said there were about 300 submissions, which were judged on criteria ranging from creativity and innovation to idea quality.
Although she was not a judge for the competition, Anderson said she was quite impressed with Lewis’ invention.
“He did his research,” she said. “He talked to firefighters and asked them what problems did they have in trying to save people.”
The winners were given a free trip to Los Angeles, where they toured Walt Disney Animation Studios, visited the XPRIZE headquarters and walked the red carpet at the premiere of Disney’s “Big Hero 6.”
“The highlight was the jet propulsion laboratories,” Lewis said.
He said being on the red carpet was an odd experience.
“It was very fast-moving but also incredibly slow. You just sort of stand in one place for a while, but all sorts of important people just filter by,” he said.
One of Lewis’ biggest supporters is his mother, Michelle.
She said her son’s love for science and technology began at a young age.
“One night when he was about 7 years old, I was putting him to bed and he said to me, ‘I hope I dream of technologies,’” she said.
“He said that he wanted to make something that’s real. And by real, I think what he meant was, ‘I want it to matter.’”
Michelle Lewis said that when her son was 11, one of his best friends went to a couple of prestigious science competitions, and he wanted to emulate his friend and go to those competitions as well.
“It’s wonderful that the corporations of America are putting these challenges out there for the students, because the students are rising to the challenges,” she said.
Chase Lewis said he will continue to invent new things because he finds it fun.
“I have one or two inventions that might do quite well,” Chase Lewis said. “If I can get those up and running, then hopefully I can go start a company.”