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Draper Journal

Corner Canyon High student’s environmentally friendly pencil may be placed on the market

Jun 18, 2019 02:04PM ● By Julie Slama

Corner Canyon High sophomore Kellen Hullinger speaks to people about Full-Use Pencil, an environmentally friendly pencil with an extended eraser, at the recent High School Utah Entrepreneur Challenge. (Julie Slama/City Journals)

By Julie Slama | [email protected]

This summer, as many high school students may be working summer jobs, Corner Canyon High sophomore Kellen Hullinger will be working on developing an idea to launch into his own business.

As a freshman last school year, Hullinger saw the opportunity to compete in the High School Utah Entrepreneur Challenge and jumped at the opportunity.

“I had this idea in the back of my head for an environmentally friendly pencil that is redesigned for greater use of both the pencil as well as the eraser and developed it,” he said.

Hullinger identified the problem, which was students casting off the pencil before it was fully used, mainly because the eraser would be spent. His solution: to introduce the Full-Use Pencil, where students could pull a little tab off to reveal more eraser attached in the metal housing.

“A lot of kids write with a No. 2 pencil, so there is a target market; the eraser just needs to be extended,” he said. “Right now, there’s not that much eraser with the pencil, so our existing pencil is just not practical.”

Through his research, Hullinger learned that 300,000 pencils are made from a single tree, yet of the 14 billion pencils manufactured, half are thrown away.

“That’s seven billion pencils, or 23,000 trees worth of wood, that is being discarded. I want to make my pencil more efficient and reduce that impact on our forests,” he said.

While his product is “mainly conceptual,” this summer Hullinger wants to make it scale and approach manufacturers.

Hullinger said he has been interested in science since he was young, having competed in science fair in sixth grade in astrophysics, and combining that with entrepreneurship has become appealing.

“I’m fascinated by the universe and learning about black holes and Stephen Hawking. I have an interest in math and theater and music, in guitar. I am planning to write a book and already have been writing songs every week. I love to do anything and everything and am always acquiring as much knowledge as possible,” he said.

The 2019 High School Utah Entrepreneur Challenge received almost 300 student business-idea submissions from high school students throughout the state. 

High School Utah Entrepreneur Challenge student director Kearsa Hodgson was impressed with the finalists.

“The teams this year showed exemplary drive and passion throughout all their ideas,” she said. “They identified problems in the community around them and were proactive in developing innovative solutions. It is amazing to see what students can accomplish.”

Hullinger’s idea was recently honored as one of the top 20 finalists in the High School Utah Entrepreneur Challenge. He advanced to the final round, where he got the chance to pitch his idea to judges, made up of many influential community leaders.

“The judges were interested in the idea, but I think they were looking for projects that made more of a human impact,” he said. “Still, I had fun and met a lot of people of like mind.”

As a finalist, Hullinger received $100. It also inspired him to compete again.

“I have three more years to take a crack at this,” he said. “I love doing competitions and have a really strong work ethic. I have ideas to share, but I know I also have to be prepared, have a prototype and show my passion about my project.”