While the Crack-O-Matic, VG Shorts and the Velcroganizer are not on store shelves, yet, these creations were proudly on display at the Maryville Intermediate School Invention Fair.
According to MIS Science teacher, Kathleen Hammontree, each year, MIS fifth-graders are assigned an invention project which correlates with the science curriculum standards. The students are expected to understand how new tools, technology and inventions are developed and used to answer questions and solve problems.
The assignment: Create a useful invention that must be a new, original idea without using batteries or electricity or is too costly to produce. Each student documents the process by keeping an inventor’s journal. Their unique inventions were presented to friends, family, sixth graders and students from Foothills Elementary during the Invention Fair.
MIS Science teacher, Stacy Haralson encouraged her students to think about areas of their life, like their hobbies and sports, and find a ways to improve that area of life. As a result, many students created inventions that were focused on the family pet.
The Shake and Feed was created because fifth grader, Ellie Heenie, said that her sister always asks her to feed her cat. She hypothesized that if feeding the cat was easy and fun, her sister might take back the responsibility.
“Putting together the frame was the most fun,” Heenie said. She said for the food delivery system, she used recycled PVC pipe from another home project. The container for the cat food was an empty laundry detergent bottle. A rattle which was attached to a pulley system attracted the cat to the cat food dish.
Two other inventions with the pet theme were the Ultimate Dog Belt by Meredith Reader and the Litter Changer by Kei Jones. Jones explained that she wanted to come up with a litter box solution for her father who has five cats. Reader said she was inspired by her family’s Maltese, Maisy. The belt can be worn by the dog walker so they can have poop bags, hand sanitizer, tennis balls, treats and a flashlight all at their fingertips.
Inventions that related to sports and hobbies were big throughout the fair.
“Since I ride horses, in the winter, the saddle is always cold,” said fifth grade student, Kirby Reynolds. She created an invention that solved the problem. She crafted a saddle pad with pockets to insert heat packs.
VG Shorts were created by fifth grade student, Jon Chrisman. He explained that gloves are often necessary for some sports. “Since I play football a lot, sometimes I can’t catch the ball because my hands get slippery,” Chrisman explained. He said he gets tired of throwing his gloves on the field, so his invention was a pair of sports shorts with velcro near the waist band. The gloves already have velcro on them so it is simple to attach the gloves to the shorts.
“This teaches them to think about a problem in their own lives and to come up with a solution,” said MIS Language Arts teacher, Terry Buchanan. Buchanan said the invention project carried into other school subjects. For example, her students read, “Thomas Edison, Jr.,” a story about a boy who came up with a simple idea, “Bat/Ball,” and went on the sell his invention to Toys-R-Us.
Buchanan said that every student was able to produce an invention. This year, they offered supplies and support to students who needed it. During the project assignment, two class periods were opened and materials were provided for students who needed extra support.
“It teaches them to come up with an original idea and to stretch their thinking,” Buchanan said.
Hannah Morgan invented a solution to a messy closet. She created a two layered shoe carousel.
My locker is really messy,” said MIS fifth grader, Cameron Perry. His invention, the Velcroganizer, was a solution to the messy locker problem. He glued felt to a poster board and put magnets on the other side so it would stick to his locker. Then he put velcro tabs to glue stick, pencils and scissors so they would stick easily to the felt poster board.
One thing was unanimous among the fifth graders. All who were asked said they learned something valuable from the experience and they had fun with the assignment.
Thadies Blackmon said building his invention, the flossing toothbrush, was to best part of the assignment. Fifth grader, Madison Coulter, inventor of the Crack-O-Matic, said the most fun was getting to see everyone else’s inventions.
“I learned how to make something realistic that people could use and that could help people,” said fifth grader, Hallie Jemley, inventor of W3D, a dog leash that can be used to walk three dogs at one time.