Benjamin Franklin, George Washington Carver, Thomas Edison, Steve Jobs, and fifth graders at Mountain View Elementary School—what do they all have in common? They are all inventors.
Before they debuted their inventions at their school’s InVenture Challenge competition, the Mountain View Target students interviewed friends, family, and community members about problems they face in everyday life. The students set out to find solutions for those problems. After narrowing down their ideas for inventions, the students continued working on their projects for about two months.
“They go through the whole design process. They do patent research. They have to come up with a prototype that will help solve the problem, and they have to come up with a pitch to sell their products as well,” explained Deanna Beaver, Mountain View Advanced Learning Program teacher.
Using catchy jingles, the students tried to sell their products to the InVenture Challenge judges. They even had to pitch their inventions to their fellow students for a chance to win the People’s Choice Award.
From a towel toaster and piggy money sorter to inventions to help toddlers tie their shoes and kids snow sled on flat surfaces, the student inventions solved an array of problems.
“It is kind of like mini-shark tank. I love that they have scripts. They are ready to answer questions. It is important that kids work together, find a problem, find a need, figure out a way to solve that, and bring the idea to fruition” said Mountain View parent Tammi Ryley.
Ryley’s son Dylan helped his team invent The Slip Clip, which they designed to help young kids tie their shoes without the help of their moms or dads.
“We thought of this idea because many children out there cannot tie their shoes without help from their parents. [The Slip Clip] doesn’t just help kids. It helps their parents,” Dylan explained.
During the series of steps in the engineering design process, Dylan learned about the importance of teamwork and cooperation.
Fellow fifth grader and inventor Yashasvini also discovered that teamwork is the best solution for solving a problem. She recognized that each of her teammates brought unique talents that made their team stronger. Through cooperation with her teammates, Yashasvini was able to improve the design of her team’s money sorter prototype.
“We first tried to use wrapping paper, but since the wrapping paper is so fragile it kept ripping,” Yashasvini revealed. “So, it wasn’t the right material to use. Then we used sparkly Duct Tape. Duct Tape is always the solution.”
Teachers like Beavers appreciated seeing the students work toward solutions to problems as they went through the step-by-step by design process. They enjoyed seeing the students develop life skills that the students will need in their future careers.
Beavers said she would actually buy many of the inventions that the students pitched at the InVenture event. One invention in particular stood out to her.
“One of the inventions that I think is really neat actually [helps] a problem that my son had when he was little—bad smells. The students have come up with a balm that you can put right over your lip, and it will disguise the smell. I think that is kind of cool,” added Beavers.
Besides her son’s team inventing The Slip Clip, Ryley also enjoyed listening to the pitches for other products. Like Beavers, she had a favorite.
“I did very much like the towel toaster. Who doesn’t get out of the shower and want to grab a [warm] towel,” Ryley confessed.
Although towel warmers are already on the market, Ryley liked how the students used their market research to make improvements to current models so their version is safer and doesn’t make towels moist.
“I think this event is fantastic. It is so fantastic for kids to be thinking about problems that they likely have on a day-to-day basis and how to solve those problems,” Dylan’s mom added.
After the judges’ votes were tallied, the students learned the names of the first place and second place teams, which advanced to the state competition at the Georgia Institute of Technology. The winning team invented the Adventure Bear. Teammates Anthony Norris, Josh Vasquez, and Vidhu Shrivastava developed the interactive bear for children in hospitals. The Adventure Bear was unique because it allowed children to create their own adventures by speaking to Adventure Bear, which was coded to respond and interact with the patient.
Students also named the Adventure Bear the People’s Choice. Second place went to the Cold Fire team: Gavin Huey, Konnor Snyder, and Luke Saboura. They designed a portable fire extinguisher that would be used outdoors on campfires. Their unique product contained environmentally friendly contents and the pull top feature made it more efficient.