“All sorts of things can happen when you’re open to new ideas and playing around with things.”
— Stephanie Kwolek, chemist who invented Kevlar and winner of the Lavoisier Medal for Technical Achievements
One of our Board Members frequently reminds us not to ask our students the old question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Rather, we should ask, “What problem do you want to solve when you grow up?” This simple twist empowers young learners to make real-life differences and better matches the fluid job market they will someday enter.
No event or initiative better embraces the concept of real-life learning than the California Invention Convention. Their website (www.cainventionconvention.org) lists the following vision: “The California Invention Convention envisions a day when EVERY child in California has the chance to follow his/her natural curiosity, invent creative solutions to problems, and be inspired to achieve his/her highest level of personal accomplishment.
Through these efforts, California’s future will be brighter and its workforce more capable and productive.”
Students in grades K–8 across our state is engaged in Invention Convention projects. All of them are winners for participating in the rigorous endeavor of inventing and responding to feedback on how to make their invention ready for the “real world.”
Recently (on April 13, 2019), all of these projects were culled down to 170 students being invited to Maxim Integrated in San Jose for the California Invention Convention. A total of 80 judges accepted the challenge of identifying 32 inventors who would be invited to the 2019 National Invention Convention and Entrepreneurship Expo (NICEE) at the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, MI.
I am beyond excited to report to you that two SUESD students are among that group of 32! New Brighton Middle School 6th Grader, Gabriella Gonzalez is one of those finalists and Ayden Maguire, a 5th Grader from Main Street Elementary is the other. What a tremendous accomplishment for these two young inventors.
Gabriella’s invention is called the “Furr Mama Simulator.” You can watch Gabbi talk about this incredible invention on YouTube at https://youtu.be/q5n1lNfUgHc. Gabbi’s invention will tug at the heartstrings of all of us pet lovers out there. The Furr Mama Simulator is designed to assist exhausted mother dogs and cats with big litters (or for litters whose mothers have passed away or unable to nurse their babies).
Fur is one of the keys to this invention to make the nursing experience for the puppies or kittens as real as possible. This past year, Gabbi used her invention to save a litter of kittens and even kept one of the kittens as her own, very healthy, pet!
Ayden’s invention is called the “Quick Escapex.” You can see his invention also on YouTube at https://youtu.be/kc5SPw7FBis. Quick Excapex takes the concept of the smoke detector to a whole other level. It is a heat and smoke detector that tells you where a fire is located and how and where to get out of the building.
Rather than just beeping, Ayden’s alarm has the potential to save lives by relaying programmed statements such as, “fire in the kitchen, exit through the garage.” Ayden even interviewed our local fire chief to discuss the viability of his idea as he was inventing it.
Both Gabbi and Ayden have GoFundMe pages (not directly associated with SUESD). Anyone interested in contributing can go to the following sites:
- Gabbi: https://www.gofundme.com/gabbi039s-going-to-nationals
- Ayden: https://www.gofundme.com/send-ayden-to-national-invention-convention
It’s awe-inspiring to know that students in our schools are applying their learning in ways that can positively change the world. These efforts have been supported by their teachers and parents.
For example, Ilana Lowe is a 5th Grade Teacher at Main Street Elementary School who first brought the Invention Convention initiative to her school. Of Ilana, Main Street Principal Ronnie Platt states that “Ilana is central to the Invention Convention happening at Main Street. She does an incredible job honoring and supporting all students in participation. Ilana’s passion for science and teaching comes through in our students’ creations.”
Also, instrumental in making this opportunity a reality for our students is Brenda Payne. She is a lifelong educator and former Principal at Main Street Elementary School. After retiring, Brenda has continued her passion for educating our community’s youth by promoting invention education. She is the President of the Board of Directors for the California Invention Convention. We are indebted to the passion she brings to this project and the impact it has made on our students.
It takes a community to support student ingenuity. Ilana and Brenda are shining examples of going above and beyond in this pursuit. They have provided numerous students, not just Gabbi & Ayden, with inspiration to be lifelong learners and inventors.
For more information: www.suesd.org