Students’ ingenuity was on display, and their inventions ranged from mosquito-repellant clothing to an alarm for reminding you to push in your chair, to an app that translates technical articles into a more kid-friendly, readable language.
To prepare, first through fifth grade students spent several recent weeks in their T.E.A. (technology, engineering and art) specialty classes ideating and creating unique prototypes of their original inventions. Students learned new skills and were encouraged to be truly creative as they checked their ideas against things that already exist, designed and redesigned their inventions and finally, built models and working prototypes. Next, students learned about the aesthetics of display boards and made boards to present at the convention.
“I noticed that kids did not push in their chairs a lot of the time and people trip over them,” said fifth grader Kahdin Watson, who collaborated with classmate Felix Alvarado to create the TuckKit.
“At first we were working on separate projects, but when we found out our ideas were already products for sale, we decided we would come up with a more creative, imaginative idea together,” said Alvarado. “We took one of my original ideas, a hydraulic pressure release arm that pushes in your chair, and changed it to a product that reminds you to push in your chair but doesn’t do it for you. Our invention is a kit that you clip onto a chair that reminds you to tuck in your chair. It works with two ultrasonic distance sensors and it beeps if the distance between it and the table is greater than or equal to 30 centimeters. Once the chair is pushed in, it will stop beeping.”
“I learned a bit more about C++ coding and how to wire a bit better,” said Watson describing the process.
“You have to adapt to use resources that are available to make a cost-effective product,” observed Alvarado, “and the smaller we can make it, the better. When coding electronics, you have to be a perfectionist and if you aren’t, you’ll have to keep redoing it until it’s perfect.”
While this inaugural Invention Convention was not open to guests, MMS preschool, kindergarten, middle and high school students, school staff, administration, and faculty attended and viewed the students’ work in the upper gym. T.E.A. teachers Angela Willetts, John Welch, Lisa Catterall and Nicole Silva Culberson interviewed each elementary inventor about their process for coming up with the idea and bringing it to life. Students were asked carefully about how much work they would commit to doing to go to the California state Invention Convention to be held virtually in mid-April.
Of the 45 inventions unveiled at the MMS event, student inventors for eight of the projects were encouraged to continue preparing and complete the necessary work — including testing, pitch videos, display preparations, and log book completion — in order to be sponsored as part of an official MMS team for the state competition.
Fashionable Mosquito-Proof Clothing, clothing designed to repel and protect the wearer against mosquito bites.
“Most people hate mosquitos,” said third grader Vivienne Gulizia, describing her inspiration. “They are annoying and they bite you and it itches. My friend had a very itchy mosquito bite. So, I thought I would make an invention that would help her and anyone else to not get mosquito bites. I thought mosquito-proof clothing would be a great solution. But if you’re a fashionista and you don’t like ugly clothing then it also has to be fashionable.
“I designed clothing that looks great and includes netting to keep the wearer cool in hot weather and does not allow mosquitos access to bite the wearer,” she continued. “I also treated the fabric with eucalyptus oil to keep away mosquitoes, as mosquitoes hate the smell of eucalyptus oil.
“Anyone can be a scientist,” added Gulizia, “you just have to believe in yourself. Scientists come up with solutions and they never give up. You don’t usually get it right the first time.”
Second grade classmates Orion Wolfe and Leo Binnings collaborated on Gamer Calmer, a calm-down kit for kids to use to transition from exciting video game play into other pursuits in their day.
“We wanted to make something that calms you down after playing video games that ramp you up,” said Binnings. “We want to make people relax, and thought of using nice smells and nice pictures.”
Third grade classmates Luiza Ocampo-Sobkoviak and Oceana Harris created Safe Girls, a face mask with a one-way valve to sip a drink that is more beautiful and safer than those currently on the market.
Classmate Cala Watson created Feetch, a product for stretching and exercising injured feet.
“My mom has plantar fasciitis and she is in lots of pain so I decided to help her,” said Watson. “It helps my mom when she stretches by putting a rubber band underneath her foot and pulling back her toes. The problem with the stretchers she has is that she cannot bring them everywhere and you have to take your shoe off to use them. When you put the Feetch on your shoe, it is portable and with you all the time. You can use the band to stretch your foot without taking off your shoe.
“It’s important to make your invention more than once,” she added, “because the first one is not the good one.”
“My family always complains about how our cat sleeps on our heads,” explained fourth grader Jacquelyn P., who designed Kitty Cuddle, a cat pillow with sewn-in “hair” for cats to play with. “So, I made a pillow for him to sleep on instead.”
“I’ve always wanted to be a doctor and I didn’t always understand medical text or terms,” noted fifth grader Rebecca P., “so I created an app to help me.”
“My invention, Readable World, is an app that scans books and then changes the text into multiple levels of simplification,” she continued, “so that anyone, of any reading level, can understand.”
“My friend Willow had a good idea about work pajamas and I really liked it so I added some ideas and together we agreed on the final model,” said Culberston. “Our invention is a business shirt and sweatpants, and velvet, that we sewed together. “The business shirt is nice and comfy because of the velvet that we added on the inside, and the sweatpants are comfy too.”
Supporting teachers and students with the first MMS Invention Convention was parent Rebecca Kershnar.
“I enjoyed working with the elementary students to help with the Invention Convention,” commented Kershnar. “It was great to see kids engaged in identifying ways they could contribute to solve problems in their life and world. Their creativity and thoughtfulness are inspiring. I look forward to seeing the program flourish in years to come.”
Contact: Leigh Ann Clifton, director of marketing & communication,
Nestled among the redwoods on 375 acres, Mount Madonna School (MMS) is a diverse learning community dedicated to creative, intellectual, and ethical growth. MMS supports its students in becoming caring, self-aware, discerning and articulate individuals; and believe a fulfilling life includes personal accomplishments, meaningful relationships and service to society. The CAIS and WASC accredited program emphasizes academic excellence, creative self-expression and positive character development. Located on Summit Road between Gilroy and Watsonville. Founded in 1979.