WJ inventions start with questions

 Messenger photo by Kristy Zurbrick

West Jefferson Middle School sixth-grader Andrew Smith demonstrates his “Shopping Cart Super Slider,” which he invented to make the bottom rack of a shopping cart easier to use.

The question—“What’s your problem?”—can be taken a couple of ways. Either it’s the start of a conversation that could end in a fist fight, or it’s the first step toward invention.

Sixth-graders at West Jefferson Middle School opted for the second interpretation as they prepared projects for the school’s second annual Invention Convention, held April 17 at the school.

Display tables lined the perimeter of the gymnasium in a double rectangle pattern. Each student had half a table on which to display and demonstrate his or her invention. Out in front stood the student’s tri-fold explanation poster. It was from the poster, or the student’s mouth, that the inquisitive observer could find out the answers to the students’ problems.

For instance, Louis Wemyss found a solution to a common party woe—whose pop is whose when the cans all look alike? His idea was to distribute a different colored rubber key cover to each party guest. The cover slips neatly over the opened pop tab and, thus, individualizes the can.

Chelsea Hoftender’s invention was in-spired by her Jack Russell terrier, “Wishbone.”

“When I let my dog out and I go back inside and turn on the TV or radio, I can’t hear when he wants back in the house,” she said of her problem.

Jacob Hatfield demonstrates his "E-Z Pillow Caser," an invention that makes making the bed a bit easier.

Her solution was to rig the underside of the welcome mat with a doorbell, triggered by Wishbone himself.

Brandon Doran wanted to find a way to become faster on the football field. So he invented weighted football cleats. If you train in heavy shoes, he figured, then you’d feel lighter and be faster in regular shoes.

Alec Holt’s invention allows him to make the perfect snowball while keeping his hands warm and dry. He cut a hollow, plastic baseball in half and attached each half to the palm of a pair of gloves.

All 118 of West Jefferson’s sixth-graders were required to come up with inventions. A team of 12 judges from Battelle Memorial Institute, students from the high school physics class, and teachers in charge of organizing the event judged the inventions. From the lot, the following 11 were chosen as grand prize winners to advance to the regional Invention Convention, set to take place on May 17 at Veterans Memorial:

• Sammi Cerino

• Brittany Chanthathirath

• Renee Deigado

• Jacob Hatfield

• Lindsy Lightner

• Zach Maxwell

• Caitlin Repass

• Andrew Smith

• Nick Snyder

• Louis Wemyss

• Carrie Winstead

Young inventor Louis Wemyss came up with a way to differentiate identical pop cans, a handy tool at social gatherings.

The first-place finishers were: Nikki Adams, Rylie Curry, Haley Good, Bradley Huntley, Steven Lollo, Beth Maynard, Ricky Ratcliff, Michael Romanov and Tim Starling.

Second-place finishers were: Cole Bare, Erin Bradfield, Brooklyn Feiri, Jimmy Foster, Valerie Hall, Leanna Henry, Paige Ihie, Keaton Hornbeck, Andrew Lewis and Brooklyn Myers.

Third-place finishers were: Chelsey Byerly, Bre Byrum, Josh Chadwick, Logan Hoenie, Chelsea Hoftender, Nick Menden-hall, Brenda Mijangos, Chaz Murphy, Austin Murry, Spencer Pearson, Kimi Willis.

Organizers of the West Jefferson event were: Bob Hunter and Matt Huffman, who teach math, science and social studies; Mary Lochton and Eric Humphries, who teach language arts and social studies; intervention specialist Abe Gerkin and Jennifer Garner; and Sherry Chamberlain, teacher for the gifted program.

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