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Southmoreland students let creative juices flow

| Wednesday, Dec. 26, 2012, 9:04 p.m.
Logan Craig
Ella Gill
Tristan Ice
Quay Akins

Some students in the Southmoreland School District recently proved their creativity, or more specifically their ability to invent.

They won prizes in the Dec. 13 Westmoreland County Invention Convention at Yough Intermediate Middle School. First-grade student Erica Gill captured first place for an invention she called Snuggle Peds, second-grade student Tristan Ice received honorable mention for Alter Ego, third grader Logan Craig took honorable mention for Flag Up, Fish On and sixth grader Quay Akins took third with his invention, Pain-Free Braces.

They were just four students among 250 aspiring inventors county-wide in kindergarten through eighth grade. Prizes were awarded by grade level.

“We started this in October when we went to Inventionland and met with real inventors about building prototypes and how to get our inventions started,” explained Lisa Shinsky, K-8 gifted coordinator. “The one piece of advice they gave us, find a problem, an everyday problem, and try to fix it....That's what the kids were using as their basis.”

So, the kids had two and a half months to work on an invention.

“The hardest part was coming up with the idea,” Shinsky said. “Once they were able to figure out the problem they wanted to solve, they did great.”

Gill created slippers with warmers. The slippers have an access panel/Velcro lift which allows for ladies to show off their manicured/painted toes.

Craig's invention is geared to help those who fish, especially those who like to use multiple poles. A flag is set up on a pulley system so when the fish bites the hook, the flag goes to the top of the pole.

“You could use it to watch multiple fishing poles to see if you have any fish on your line,” Craig said. “It sits in the group with a fishing pole in it..... When something tugs on the line it causes the flag to go up.”

Shinsky said the kids brought the prototypes to the convention and Craig's did cause her some problems.

“He had the fishing pole there,” she said. “It was stuck in my hair many times.”

Ice invented a hat with a panel that allows for easy change of the logo on that hat. For example, a person could buy one baseball cap, have it display a Pirate logo in the summer, then change it to a Steeler logo come football season.

“It's a hat designed so you don't have to keep buying hats,” Ice explained. “You get one hat with one panel and you can buy other panels and just stick it on. You can get any emblem you want and you can switch.”

Akins wanted to take the discomfort out of the experience of wearing braces. There are two small balls utilized to have smooth brackets on the braces. Round beads are used instead of brackets.

“I have braces and the first three or four weeks I had them, they would scratch my cheeks a lot,” Akins said. “I thought it would be nice if they didn't have rough edges.”

Shinsky was impressed with what she saw from these students.

“It's amazing,” she said. “I truly believe inventions come from children, because they're the ones that have the imagination to come up with these things. I had braces and I remember that same situation. I would have wanted my parents to buy these types of braces for me instead.”

Inventions go on to the state level. Shinsky said the Pennsylvania Inventors Society usually reveals the winners in June.

Elementary-school student Abby Fullem was a winner at the state level two years ago with her invention The Scoot Case, a suitcase for kids with wheels.

Paul Paterra is a staff editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-887-6101 or