The Ottumwa Courier

January 30, 2013

Young inventors demonstrate creativity at Invention Convention

MARK NEWMAN
Ottumwa Courier

OTTUMWA — At the Invention Convention, judges say one of the things they like to look for is the invention’s usefulness.

The event featured items both kids and parents could use.

For example, while playing outside, Madison Brandt, a Seton Catholic School student, noticed it was so cold, even her hat wasn’t enough protection. So she ironed Velcro to the inside of a bright orange stocking cap, then used a piece of cloth to make pockets. The two pockets held activated handwarmers.

The inventor tested the product on her little brother. And it was a success.

The experimental portion is important. There’s more to the requirements than just having an idea or even putting it into practice. Judges want kids to do the work in a scientific manner.

One inventor documented her scientific method during the course of developing an idea that could be popular with kids.

While there are almost certainly moms and dads who enjoy hopping on the trampoline with their friends and coworkers, that tends to be a younger person’s pasttime.

Ashlyn Ware, a sixth-grader at Evans Middle School, did what the rules call for. First, she discovered a problem she wanted to address.

Trampoline jumping with friends when it starts getting late can be dangerous, a little scary and somewhat inconvenient. Fellow jumpers may not notice each other in the dark and collide. Plus there are animal noises in the country location where the trampoline is set up.

Next, judges want kids to come up with ideas. Ashlyn thought of different types of lights that could be strung outside, and that would easily wrap around parts of the equipment.  

During the process, students are required to document their work. For example, back at the Hot Heads display, Madison had pictures of her putting the hat on her little brother.

After writing up an “inventor’s log” of their process, students are then able to display their ideas at the Invention Convention. But the job isn’t over at that point.

Judges carried clipboards, and asked questions of young inventors at Ottumwa’s Invention Convention. The dozens of tables had young people around them — and the judges.

Other inventions Tuesday included a light-up dog leash good for safety and fashion, a warming hat that could also conceal lunch money, a comfort sled with padding that allows kids stay out longer and a three-pocket plastic bag so if you have to have leftovers, the green beans won’t mix with the mashed potatoes or the meat loaf.