Indiana girl a finalist in Warren Buffett contest

GRANGER, Ind. - A 9-year-old northern Indiana girl with a passion for business has been chosen as a finalist in a business-development contest sponsored by billionaire Warren Buffett.

Mia Bauer of Granger will present her business idea later this month to the Berkshire Hathaway chief executive as part of his Secret Millionaires Club's "Grow Your Own Business Challenge."

That contest allows children from ages 7 to 14 to submit business ideas for a chance to win $5,000 and present their idea to Buffett in Omaha, Nebraska.

Mia will present her idea for "concentration bugs." The idea behind the stuffed animals, which resemble friendly, colorful bugs, is for students to keep near them when they're studying as a reminder to focus on their work if their minds wander.

Mia, who attends St. Pius X Catholic School in Granger, said her idea arose from a study session she had with her 6-year-old sister, Nina.

"My little sister drew a bug on an eraser and pretended like it gave the power to concentrate," she told the South Bend Tribune .

At that moment, Mia said she realized that a physical object could help students tap into their powers of concentration. Her idea is to have young students place the stuffed bugs nearby while they study and if their mind wanders, the bug can act as a reminder to continue concentrating.

"From a parent's perspective, it's kind of a soft reminder for kids to study," said Mia's father, Brett Bauer. "So we're not always saying: concentrate, concentrate."

Mia and her father bought the materials for the prototype bugs, and her grandmother made several of the stuffed animals.

She and her father have contracted a middleman to make the bugs, and Mia plans to sell them on her website, concentrationbugs.com. They come with a book written by Mia and her mother and illustrated by Mia that explains the idea behind the stuffed animals as a concentration aid.

Mia said she's excited about her trip to Nebraska. She'll be traveling with her father and a teacher who helped proofread her contest essay.

"I just can't wait," she said enthusiastically.

She's one of five individual students nationwide to snag the chance to present her idea. Three teams of students are also presenting.

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