April 19, 1997 in Washington Voices

The Kids Are Real Problem Solvers Invention Convention Lets Students’ Imaginations Run Wild

By The Spokesman-Review
 

Moms liked the deluxe brownie cutter.

“No more whining over which brownie is the biggest!” said one mother at East Valley Middle School’s Invention Convention.

An empty cable spool provided the cutting edges for Jeff Jenkins’ invention.

“I was thinking of a graph-maker that draws lines, and I thought it could cut stuff,” explained Jenkins.

About 200 sixth-graders at the middle school let their creativity go wild with their own inventions, after several weeks’ study about inventors and inventing. Gizmos to make beds automatically, eyeglasses with headlights and wipers, a remote control for bowling balls - there was no limit to the ideas on display.

“Zeno’s is cool. But it doesn’t have an engine,” said classmate Jess Finck.

Zeno Reed developed a remote lawn mower. Major components: a radio-controlled car, with a transparent cake lid on top. Perhaps to prevent grass clippings from flying? Sixth-grader Luke Walker helped explain some of his classmates’ work.

“Those are chocolate candles, so when they melt you won’t get wax on your cake,” he said, stopping by one display.

Both boys recommended a super Kitty Litter box that came equipped with a motion-sensor light and a spray can of air freshener.

Then there were the “survival shoes,” by Stephanie Lindsay. These shoes came decorated with all manner of paraphernalia: a minature Bible, a flashlight, Chapstick, tiny notebook and pencil, a tiny hot pad.

“I thought of this invention because whenever I go camping I have to bring an extra bag for this kind of stuff and it just takes up room,” Lindsay’s accompanying paper explained.

Some sixth grade teachers judged entries, based on originality, whether they worked, marketing, usefulness and effort.

Other teachers said this is definitely the first annual convention.

“They learned to problem solve,” said teacher Alison Walton. “Instead of sitting around and complaining about a problem, they found a way to solve it.”

Walton pointed out one simple entry: a single serving plastic ketchup cup, with a french-fry sized hole in the top. Miranda Davis was the inventor of the No More Spills Sauce Holder.

“She made this for me,” Walton said, “Because my husband gets mad at me when my ketchup spills in the truck.”

, DataTimes


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