Young inventors get a chance to show their stuff
Nov 21, 2012 (The Peninsula Gateway (Gig Harbor - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
Thomas Edison has nothing on the kids in Gig Harbor Academy teacher Eileen Perry's third-grade class.
The school's "Invention Convention" was held Oct. 25, and students were good enough to display their various contraptions and devices on Monday.
Sarah Tibbits, 9, of Gig Harbor built an "Animal Translator," complete with a keyboard fashioned from an egg carton and a light-up necklace on the inside to give the machine the appearance of flashing lights. A circular rotating knob allowed users to pick an animal sound to have translated into English.
It was an impressive piece of work to be sure, endorsed -- according to quotes on the outside of the machine -- by the likes of Jeff Corwin, best known as the host and executive producer of the Animal Planet cable TV programs, famous American zookeeper Jack Hannah and Terry Irwin, the Australian-based, American-born naturalist, author and widow of Australian naturalist Steve Irwin.
Tibbits, who said she wants to build a zoo and work with animals when she grows up, called her invention a "fun idea" that helps let people know what their animals are trying to tell them.
"It took me a couple of days," she said of building her device.
Jacob Buys' "Amazing Reptile Catcher" was a structure composed of Legos that used a robot to catch said reptiles and keep them separate.
"I like to catch them and have fun with them," Buys, 9, of Gig Harbor, said of playing with reptiles.
Nina Moravek's invention was a little more down to earth.
The 9-year-old Gig Harbor resident came up with what she calls "Soak It Dry."
"After I take a shower, my hair gets wet," she said, "and my pillow gets wet."
To remedy the annoying problem for people who take showers before they go to bed, Moravek fashioned head coverings out of towels in order to soak up the moisture and keep the nighttime head cushion dry.
"There's different lengths for different hair," the enterprising Moravek explained.
Serena Javid's "The Idea Trap" is perfect for anyone who's ever gone to sleep with a good idea in mind, only to wake up without a clue as to what that idea was.
The 9-year-old Fox Island resident's simple solution: keeping a reading light, a pad of paper and a writing device near the bed.
"This is so ideas don't go away," she said.
Clearly, her idea didn't get away.
"The Lights On Alarm Clock" will appeal to those who have a hard time getting up in the morning, even when the alarm clock goes off.
Reed Kregenow, 8, of Gig Harbor, constructed a device that automatically turns on the lights when the alarm clock goes off.
And we all know how hard it is to go back to sleep in the morning once the bright lights hit you.
"The kids have a really fun time with it," Perry said of her students and the "Gizmos, Gadgets and Whatchamacallits" science unit.
As part of the unit, students brainstormed a list of characteristics associated with inventors, including ability, imagination, perseverance, patience and "thinking outside the box."
From there, students explored things that annoyed them and how to improve current devices to make people's lives easier, more comfortable or enjoyable. Students got a chance to put their creative juices to work by producing a prototype of their idea and explaining how it works.
While the prototype didn't actually have to work exactly as advertised, it did have to be three-dimensional and made from common household items and supplies.
"I'm teaching them that creativity is as important as academics," Perry said.
Reporter Brett Davis can be reached at 253-358-4151 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter, @gateway_brett.
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