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LGHS junior Collin Wentzien does it all: whether he’s working on a complex technological project, holding down midfield on the soccer pitch, or teaching English to kids in Africa, he’s sure to exhibit his big heart, endless passion, and inventive mind.
You may know Wentzien from Quizza — the website he started with his friend and business partner, Ryland Goldman. Quizza is a free study program for LGHS, SHS, and Fisher Middle School students that serves as an alternative to the popular studying app Quizlet. When Quizlet started charging users for certain features, Wentzien and Goldman made it their goal to create a more accessible program for communities close to them.
However, this isn’t the only impressive project Wentzien has worked on over the past few years. In LGHS’s Advanced Science Research class, which he joined this year, Wentzien is attempting to create a semi-autonomous bike that can successfully avoid obstacles such as cones. In the future, he hopes to “branch out to other obstacles [to give the bike] more real world applications.”
Outside of school, Wentzien juggles even more passion projects, which include a handmade scoreboard, drone, and rocket. He even started a company with Goldman called Phone by Mako which boasts “the most simple and upgradable do-it-yourself phone [kits]… [and] teaches people how phones work,” according to their Facebook page.
Wentzien has always been interested in technology. One of his earliest projects was in first grade, when his mom bought him a soldering electronics kit because he was interested in how traffic lights worked. He recalled, “I went to RadioShack all the time back when that was a thing and bought LEDs for 10 times what they’re actually worth. But it was fun for me, discovering how to get things to work.” Though his dad has been a major supporter, Wentzien is mostly self-taught and works on many projects on his own.
Aside from an unwavering dedication to inventing, Wentzien has played soccer for as long as he can remember. He plays for both LG United and for the LGHS Varsity team. He enjoys how universal the sport is, and particularly recalled his experience in Tanzania last summer, when he got to play with the locals there. He considers the sport “a great way to connect with people that may not speak the same language. You might not be able to talk to them, but you can still connect over a game.” He visited Africa as part of a volunteer program, during which he built chicken coops, taught English, and played soccer. His biggest takeaway was the realization of “how different some parts of the world are, compared to here. You don’t fully understand it until you actually see it.”
Although Wentzien is not yet certain of his future, he hopes to study engineering — likely electrical or mechanical. Ultimately, he’s interested in creating his own startup and discovering new projects on the way.