Yesterday I had the pleasure and honor of judging student inventions at the Moses Y. Beach school in Wallingford. I have to say that I was really impressed and inspired by the inventions that the kids created and constructed! The winners of this school invention contest now will move onto the statewide Connecticut Invention Convention in May at the UConn campus in Storrs. I judged entries from students in the 2nd, 3rd and 4th grade. The kids were challenged to invent something that solves a problem for them, their family, their community or the world in general. The stuff they came up with was amazing!!
My favorite was invented by a 2nd grader who is an avid chess player. Tired of the somewhat mundane chess pieces he had been using he created “Alien Invasion Chess”. All of the individual chess pieces were recreated into aliens using modeling clay in vibrant colors with amazing detail. This young inventor gave me a great description of his invention, the challenges he faced, the time time he took planning and building the invention and his inspiration and hopes for his creation. Wow….!!
Other inventions included ice fishing safety hooks, ball joint breakers, headache healers back massagers, pet food feeders, plant watering devices, spaghetti eaters, food holders and of course one very ingenious and humane mousetrap: “The Happy Trap” it was called. Happy for the homeowner who catches the mouse and happy for the mouse who gets caught without getting killed!
Whether or not any of these inventions ever becomes a huge hit really doesn’t matter too much. It’s the spirit of inventing that does. Brainstorming, questioning, researching, testing and improving, imagining and dreaming. Those are the experiences that really matter. Especially for kids whose minds are just bursting with ideas that just might make our world a little better place to live. As Albert Einstein said “Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. The important thing is not to stop questioning.”