Young Inventor Challenge: Interview with 2018 Winner Ellie Skalla

Young Inventor Challenge: Interview with 2018 Winner Ellie Skalla

Young Inventor Challenge LogoThe October 31st deadline to register for ChiTAG’s Young Inventor Challenge is quickly approaching and what a good time to talk to one of last year’s winner, Ellie Skalla.  First let’s talk about the competition. Judging is split into two groups, Junior (ages 6-10) and Senior (ages 11-18) and one winner from each group will be selected in each of the following categories:

Most Creative Concept – Sponsored by PlayMonster

Best Ride-On or Wheeled Concept – Sponsored by Razor

Best Game Concept – Sponsored by Spin Master

Best Playful Learning Concept – Sponsored by LEGO

Most Marketable – Sponsored by Pressman and Target

Best Presentation – Sponsored by The Genius of Play, an initiative by The Toy Association

Winners will be announced, and prizes awarded at 2:30pm on Saturday, November 17, 2018 at ChiTAG Toy & Game Fair in Chicago at Navy Pier following online and in-person judging. Participants do not need to attend ChiTAG to be eligible to win as they can upload a video to explain their concept.  To find out more or register for the Young Inventor Challenge before the October 31st deadline (submissions are due November 2nd), click HERE.  


Ellie Skalla

A Chat with Last Year’s ChiTAG’s Young Inventor Challenge Winner, Ellie Skalla

Last year 10 year old Ellie Skalla won Most Marketable Concept in the Senior Division and her game Galactiquest was picked up by Pressman! I had the opportunity to ask her some questions about her participation in ChiTAG’s Young Inventor Challenge and life afterward, and here’s what she had to say:

TGA: I heard you’re from Oak Park, Illinois!  What grade are you in and what school do you go to?

ELLIE: 6th at Percy Julian Middle School


TGA: Ideas come to people in many different ways and I love hearing other inventor’s process!  How did you come up with the game?

ELLIE: I came up with the game after my brother had entered the contest the year before me. It was inspiring to see all the games at the convention and I thought of a game set in space with the planets as spaces.


TGA: Tell me a little bit about Galactiquest…the quick pitch!

ELLIE: The goal of the game is to conquer as many planets as possible. You have to buy rocket fuel to fly from planet to planet and buy farms to get more money. Sometimes there will be a battle over planets which could end up destroying them! Once all the planets are conquered, the player with the most planets wins.


TGA: Sometimes naming a game is my least favorite part.  How did you come up with the name Galactiquest?

ELLIE: At first the game was going to be called “Space Race”, but i wanted to come up with a more interesting name. I was just brainstorming ideas and really liked the name Galactiquest. I researched to see if anything else was named Galactiquest but it seemed like my game was the only one.


TGA: Tell me a little bit about what the process has been like working with Goliath/Pressman to create Galactiquest?

ELLIE: We had multiple calls with them discussing different rules and we had to play it a lot to test it.  I really liked that they asked for my opinion about everything. Once we made a quick version of the game using M&M’s as pieces when we went camping so we could test it again!


GalactiQuest BoxTGA: When will your game be released and do you know where folks will be able to buy it?

ELLIE: The game is coming out the second week of January in Target stores across the US and on

TGA: Does your win make you want to go in the toy and game industry? If not, what do you think you’d like to study when you go to college?

ELLIE: I’m not really sure what I would like to study in college but if the opportunity arises I would love to have a job in the toy and game industry.  In school my favorite subjects are art, math, and design.


TGA: What else do you do for fun?

ELLIE: I love to draw, read, play soccer, and play board games (duh)!


TGA: Ha!  Of course board games are on your list.  Do you have a current favorite?

ELLIE: Though it changes often, I think Dixit is my favorite currently.


Thanks to Ellie for taking the time to answer some questions and congrats again to her on her win!  I’m looking forward to trying her game, aren’t you?