The Ingenuity of Youth
Patrick Fuller was proud of the traveling water sanitizer he built with Beckwith Middle School classmates for Bridgewater State University's eighth annual Invention Convention, where teams of local school children presented their inventions for competition.
"People are dying from water pollution all over the world," said Patrick. "This could possibly save millions of lives."
The H2O to Go -- a hose with a built-in filter that suctions water into a container worn on the back -- is designed to help people in developing countries like Ethiopia, where access to clean water is limited. That ingenuity was also apparent in the work of the 20 other competing teams of middle and high school students.
Inventions included an infant transport device, an automatic page-turner for sheet music, green energy products, and an advanced windshield scraper. Past inventions have included organic gardens in space, bicycle iPod chargers, and nutrition systems designed for people suffering from anorexia.
Each year, poster projects and skits acted out by the teams demonstrate the usefulness of their inventions while PowerPoint presentations explain how the students created their products. Students spend the academic year developing and building their creations with a teacher mentor.
One aim of the convention is to pique young students' interest in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) education, said [b]Mary Price[/b], director of the Educator Resource and Enrichment Center, which organizes the event staged at the Moakley Center.
"Project Invention Convention has helped hundreds of students in Southeastern Massachusetts and Cape Cod develop skills in the STEM area, along with developing communication and presentation skills that they will need as they continue their education after high school," she said.
Bridgewater Middle School teachers Kelly Haefner and Elaine Watson said the convention helps motivate their students inside and outside the classroom. "To have kids their age use teamwork to create something so advanced is not an opportunity they get in other classes," said Ms. Haefner.
Ms. Watson said participating in such a large-scale event is a great experience for the youngsters, who do not usually have the opportunity to visit and present on college campuses. "It gives these kids a chance to take their learning to a new venue," she said.
Their Bridgewater students developed a prototype for an advanced smart starter for a car, which will start the car at a certain time and adjust the heat, among other things.
There were approximately 120 participating students this year, hailing from Bridgewater, Chapman, Chatham, Dighton, Foxboro, Kingston, Georgetown, Middleboro, Plymouth, Rehoboth, Walpole and Weymouth. Awards were given for first through third place, honorable mention, marketability and use of technology.
It was the first time at the convention for student Darian Radzikowski, whose Georgetown Middle School team built ultraviolet disinfection equipment for bathroom products. Echoing the altruistic sentiments of the other students at the convention, Darian said she loved working as a team to invent a device that could benefit society.
"It was really exciting to work on something that could possibly help the world," she said. (Rob Matheson, '07, G '12, University Advancement)
Winners and their inventions:
[list][*]First Place: Silver Lake Middle School in Kingston, Pressure Clock
[*]Second Place: Beckwith Middle School in Rehoboth, H20 to Go
[*]Third Place: Chatham Middle School, S.A.F.E.
[*]Honorable Mention: Georgetown Middle School, U. V. Logistics
[*]Best Use of Technology: Nichols Middle School in Middleborough, E-Hinge
[*]Most Likely to be Marketed: Chatham Middle School, C.I.T. Infant Transport[/list]
[i]Bottom photo caption: Posing with their Smart Start car starter are the Bridgewater teammates (from left) Tim Souza, Chase Dupre, Ryley Wall, Andrew Howard (kneeling, with device) and Zach Souza.[/i]