Fifth grade students in Melanie Klock’s REACH class at Northwood Elementary School in Hilton entered the “Shark Tank,” so to speak, when they recently presented their inventions to a panel of judges.
“Each invention was derived from a current problem that exists in the school, community or home,” Klock said. “Students learned how to conduct an effective market research plan, draw conclusions based on research, and then determine what invention to create and how to make a working prototype.”
Camryn Frisbee invented the Touch and Know, different sized labels with various textures that can be placed on items to help blind and visually impaired people be more independent. He was inspired by his visually impaired grandfather, who is now using the labels.
“Sometimes something simple can make a big impact on someone’s life,” Frisbee said.
He received first place from the judges, which included Scott Bellinger, a professor of engineering at the Rochester Institute of Technology and inventor of the electric bike; Barbara Surash, assistant superintendent for instruction; and Tony Ambrose, instructional technology specialist.
Students were judged on their process — identifying a problem, researching, developing, testing and improving their invention; prototype — whether the invention solves the problem and is a unique solution; and communication — oral presentation, response to questions, display and inventor’s journal documenting their process. The judges asked follow-up questions like, “How successful do you think your product will be?” and “Explain the most challenging step in your design process.”
Other inventions included the Cadet Cubby, a storage system for classrooms; the Wake Alarm fire prevention system (third place); and the Fast Blast 20-20 (second place), a fog screen to disorient potential intruders to the school. In all, 16 inventions were presented by 25 students.
All students met the criteria and are recommended to attend the western New York state Invention Convention on May 11 at the Buffalo Museum and Science Center.