Three students from the North Wall School tucked away on busy Wall Street in north Spokane recently took high honors at the latest Invent Washington competition where they showed off products they had invented.
The students at the private school were coached by Mandy Apele, who teaches grades three through six in one room. “It’s kind of a modern-day one room schoolhouse,” she said.
The annual competition is open to students at any school who are willing to put in the hours of work doing research, preparing a scale drawing of their invention and then creating a prototype. They have to keep an inventor’s log and then create a display for their device.
“It’s a massive amount of work,” Apele said. “It’s pretty intense. It takes weeks, really.”
She had all 11 students in her class prepare an invention as part of their science instruction.
“We don’t really do it for the competition part of it,” she said. “We’re doing it anyway as part of the curriculum.”
Her students all enjoyed the experience, she said. “They just love to create and design and build. Their favorite part is that they get to design something.”
Apele said she’s proud of the hard work her students put into their projects. “Whether or not they won awards, they were proud of the work they did,” she said.
Sixth-grader Aevery McMullin won Best in Show for her “cramp comfort” invention and is one of two students from North Wall School who will advance to the National Invention Convention in Dearborn, Michigan, in May.
Her invention is a wrap that goes around a person’s midsection with four pockets for the placement of hand-warmer packs to help soothe an aching back or cramps. “You can choose where you want the heat,” she said.
She was inspired to make her product because she’s hurt her back before and knows how handy it is to have a heat pack that doesn’t require batteries or an electrical cord. “It was really annoying to try to keep a heating pad on,” she said. “You can’t move around.”
Her sister, fourth-grader Emily McMullin, took third place for her No-Snow Dog Mitt. The mitt has a pocket for a hand-warmer pack to help melt snow and one side is made of rough plastic to allow the removal of snow clumps from dog fur. She looked to her family pet for inspiration.
“When my dog comes inside, she gets snow all over the house and makes a mess,” she said.
The mitt seems to work fine, but she said she never got to test it on her dog. “By the time I made it all the snow had melted,” she said.
Sixth-grader Hannah Swanson took Best in Show for her “swim spectacles” and will also be attending the national Invention Convention. Her swim spectacles are designed to be worn over regular glasses so people can still see while they swim. Swanson said she was inspired by a friend who wears glasses but always had to take them off when she went swimming.
She called them swim spectacles rather than glasses or goggles because she liked the sound of the more old-fashioned term.
“I kind of like the ring to it,” she said.
Though her swim spectacles did well in the competition, Swanson said they need a bit of tweaking. “I couldn’t figure out how to make them completely waterproof,” she said.
All three students enjoyed their experience at the state competition. Aevery McMullin said she was initially hesitant to talk to a bunch of people she didn’t know.
“All the people I talked to were really nice,” she said. “I thought it was a really neat experience because I hadn’t done it before.”
She said she’s never been to Michigan, and is looking forward to checking out the Henry Ford Museum while she’s there for the national competition. “I’m really excited,” she said. “It’s like a once in a lifetime experience.”
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