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Heritage Invention Fair spotlights student ingenuity

At the Heritage Elementary School Invention Fair, Nathan Assaf won a grand prize for “Best Mechanical Device” with his “Super Scraper,” a jack-o-lantern drill attachment for cleaning a pumpkin’s interior.

For the last nine weeks, Assaf and about 35 gifted students studied inventions for “a required, culminating project for my class,” Laura Minor said. She serves as gifted education specialist for grades 3-6.

The assignment guided students in “the process inventors go through to generate ideas, analyze what is on the market and produce a product prototype,” Minor said. By ‘selling’ their inventions to business professionals, students had “an authentic audience and interacted with actual product developers, engineers and entrepreneurs.”

Judges included Gary Minor, future concepts lead, MDA; Don Michael, entrepreneurial inventor of the microstylus; and Terry Johnson, product development director, Strata G Solutions Inc.

The Heritage students also benefited from public speaking and “persuading others to agree with their ideas/product,” Minor said. “These are life skills.”

Kimberly Campbell won Best in Show for “Dog-Gone,” a portable snack/water kit for dogs on long car trips. “Much like a doggie Lunchable,” Minor said. Another Best in Show winner, Lauren Chavez invented the “Waterproof Reusable Project Carrier” for students and professionals to transport larger, tri-fold projects/posters. “The carrier has an adjustable carry-on strap … no more posters rolled up and getting damaged on the bus,” Minor said.

Other prize winners included Jackson Reece’s “Bed-O-Matic,” relieving the dreaded chore of bed making. Jillain Minor won first place for “Ste-T Cruise Card,” room keys for cruise cabins with antimicrobial coating. “No more sick cruise ships,” Minor said.

“Judges spent the morning reviewing inventions, backboards and logs and later listened to each inventor’s oral presentation,” Minor said. “Students described their invention, the problem it solved, any tests they researched and the product’s proposed slogan.”

For the Invention Fair, students “worked hard on a long-term project, interacted with professionals and saw what it’s really like to invent/design for a living,” Minor said. “The product pitch was a particularly terrific experience for these future leaders.”

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