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Ingenious inventions

Fifth-graders find ways to make tasks easier, more fun

Brent Boyer

By most accounts, Thomas Edison’s first invention — an electric vote recorder — wasn’t completed until after his 20th birthday. If age is an accurate measure, America’s most famous inventor was a full 10 years behind a group of Strawberry Park Elementary School students.

On Friday, students in Judy Ross’ and Barb Gregoire’s fifth-grade classes unveiled a variety of inventions they created for the culmination of a unit on simple machines.

“It’s like a whole different way of thinking for them,” Gregoire said. “It’s so much fun to see them so excited and proud of their work.”

The inventions ran the gamut from practical to extravagant to parent-pleasing.

After watching some of his friends and classmates chew on their clothes, Erik Lynch invented Skittles bracelets. By melting the popular candy and molding the resulting byproduct into bracelets and rings, Lynch found a way to keep children from chewing on their shirts and gloves. Lynch said he knows of at least a couple of mothers who will thank him for his creation.

“Their moms won’t get mad, and these taste a lot better than clothes,” Lynch said.

On a recent camping trip with his family, Devin Blake became frustrated that the hook and lure on his fishing pole were getting caught on clothes, plants and other items. Using a small pill bottle, Blake fashioned a removable guard that protects a fish hook and lure while preventing the user from having to untie each from the fishing line.

“I know if no one else likes it, I’m definitely going to be using it,” Blake said.

One of the Invention Convention’s most popular creations was the “Snow Cart” made by Haley Orton.

“I was watching my mom push a cart through the snow and how hard she had to push it,” Orton said.

With some help from Wal-Mart, which allowed Orton to borrow a shopping cart, the fifth-grader affixed a pair of old skis to the base of the cart. The precise placement of the skis allows the cart to operate via its wheels or, in the event of deep snow, its skis.

Shea O’Brien came up with the idea for her invention with some help from her brother, who became frustrated one day while drinking a milkshake because clumps of ice cream kept clogging his straw. O’Brien attached filters from spray bottles to the bottom of straws, creating a filter that prevents solid objects from being sucked into the drinking tubes. Her brother said the filtered straws are a success.

“He likes them, but he still thinks I’m weird,” O’Brien said.

Sympathetic to older golfers with bad backs, Josh Satterfield constructed a “Lazy Putter” by attaching a small fishing pole to a standard golf putter. Satterfield tied a practice golf ball to the pole’s fishing line, allowing the user to putt the ball and retrieve it by using the pole’s reel. With the Lazy Putter, golfers with back problems no longer will have to bend over to pick up their balls.

Eryn Rinck loves her horse, Jiggs, but she often is troubled by the difficulty she encounters when trying to get the bit in his mouth. Forcing the bit into Jiggs’ mouth is painful for the horse and depressing for Rinck, she said.

In an effort to solve the problem, Rinck created bit paste. Using a variety of ingredients, including apples, honey, oatmeal and grain, Rinck made a paste that she can spread over the bit. She hopes Jiggs will like the smell and taste of the bit paste enough to make the process of inserting the bit a little easier.

Other student inventions included a “Sonic Saver” by Katie Ross designed to emit a high-pitched noise that will keep animals away from moving vehicles; a desk organizer complete with drawers by Josh Sexton; a “Never Freeze Dog Bowl” wrapped in heat tape by Alex Klimovitz; a “No-Touch Mouse Trap” by Sawyer Lorenz; and a giant lint roller by Hanna Porteous.


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