They’re following in the footsteps of de Vinci

     Northwest Indiana innovators Mason Ploszay, Eric Plath, Lizbeth Luna-Zetina, Charlotte Corneil and Isabel Barron, have more in common with Leonardo de Vinci, than you might think. Like the creative genus of the Renaissance, these students dream, probe, experiment, risk, ask, observe, persevere, challenge and imagine.

Isabel Barron

     The Center for Creative Solutions honored them during April’s World Creativity and Innovation Week. Underwritten by the Morgan Family Foundation, they received Student Innovation awards.
     Isabel Barron is a fifth grader at La Porte’s Kesling Intermediate School and an aspiring professional cook/entrepreneur. Her creative inspiration is her dad, Julio.
“I started to learn how to cook dishes my dad made by observing how much he put in and what he put in. Whenever my dad cooks, he never uses measurements. But that part was hard for me. I would make dishes and they would be too salty or not enough salt. I don’t know how many times I have burned myself but it has happened many times. At the moment, I am way more careful and I do not burn myself as much, “ Isabel said.

Artwork by Charlotte Corneil

     Charlotte Corneil is an eleventh grader from the Teen Art Council at the Lubeznik Center for the Arts in Michigan City. She was nominated for art pieces that reflect her feelings about her own health challenges.
     “My process for the project was to write or draw whatever I was feeling. Getting emotions down on paper was a very therapeutic part of the process. After extensive writing, I would reflect on the material and focus in on specific feelings. Joy and happiness were surprisingly difficult to adapt to and creating artwork on a deadline was a big learning curing. Talking to others about my art and my feelings helped me overcome these obstacles,” Charlotte said.

Lizbeth Luna-Zetina

     Lizbeth Luna-Zetina is a 7th grader at La Porte Middle School. She volunteers and participants in many La Porte County Public Library programs. “She is exceptionally curious and confident. Very polite, fun and funny to converse with,” said her nominator, Earl Adams, a mentor at the library.
     “My mom says that, since my first years of life, I was always very curious. I like to expand my knowledge using hands-on experiences,” Lizbeth said. “For this reason, I am always seeking new opportunities. One of the most challenging ones was the Sphero Robot. This robot’s intended use is to move like a spider with 8 3D printed legs. The challenging part of this was to pay very close attention to the details to the pictures because it didn’t have any worded instructions.”

Eric Plath

     Eric Plath is a Westville 7th grader whose creative project was inspired by his teacher, Ben Frankowski, at Discovery Charter School in Porter and his dad, Dan, founder of the Northwest Indiana Paddling Association. Eric designs, builds and sells custom canoe paddles out of his new business, the Plath Canoe Paddle Company. His paddles are made of native Indiana trees.
     “My goal is to create paddles that are locally-sourced, out of invasive species such as tree-of-heaven, black locust, autumn olive and over abundant natives such as sassafras,” he said. Doing so, Eric would be “helping to rid our environment of detrimental invasive species and producing a high quality paddle that people from Northwest Indiana will be proud of (because it) is locally produced.”

Mason Ploszay

     Mason Ploszay is a 17-year-old home school student. Currently, he is working on several projects, including building a curbless shower for his grandparents. “He is super curious and a great self-learner. Nothing stops him if he wants to do a project,” noted his mentor, Earl Adams, this year’s CREO! award co-recipient.
     The admiration is mutual. “A real turning point for my educational journey has been meeting my mentor, Earl Adams, at the Michigan City Library’s Maker Space. Earl invited me to work with him on various projects together, like building a wooden chess board, restoring a radial arm saw, and doing science experiments in his lab. He inspired me with his infectious attitude toward adversity and his willingness to dive head first into a project,” Mason reflected.
     “Each April, we celebrate World Creativity and Innovation Week. The week’s activities are designed to encourage a culture of innovation and creativity throughout our community. Our hope is that these students will embrace this mission as they continue their creative journey. We also want them to encourage others to express their brand of creativity,” said Cynthia Hedge, CEO of the Center for Creative Solutions, a local non-profit organization.
     Sponsors for World Creativity and Innovation Week are the Center for Creative Solutions and WIMS Radio. Community partners include the Society of Innovators at Purdue Northwest, The Nest, Michigan City Public Library, “Arts on the Air” on Lakeshore Public Radio, La Porte County Public Library and the Lubeznik Center for the Arts.
     For an international creativity flavor, check out

One Response to “They’re following in the footsteps of de Vinci”

  1. Keri Marrs Barron

    Apr 30. 2021

    Wonderful news about such creative youth! Thanks WNLP and Center for Creative Solutions to honor and recognize our creative youth! I look forward to their continued creative contributions! Let us all keep creating and exploring new things!!

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