The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

January 17, 2014

Camanche students ready to solve problems

By Amy Kent Herald Staff Writer
The Clinton Herald

---- — CAMANCHE — Students at Camanche Elementary School are doing their part to develop the world’s next generation of problem-solving tools.

More than 30 third- and fourth-grade students will present their original creations at 6 p.m. Thursday during the Camanche Elementary School Invention Convention as part of Invent Iowa, an annual statewide inventors contest.

“It was started in 1987,” Camanche Elementary teacher Sheryl Kennedy said. “Hundreds of students in grades three through 12 participate in Iowa every year and the Camanche School District has a history of doing quite well in this statewide competition.”

Kennedy’s students began their invention brainstorming early in October, meeting two days a week to work on the design, practicality and function of their homemade inventions.

The students interviewed several people asking them about some of their daily annoyances, and after generating about 80 to 90 problems and obstacles, the students were asked to choose one.

Fourth grader Eva Gifford’s idea came to her after her mom bumped her knee while trying to climb underneath their family Christmas tree to plug in the lights. To help her mom and others that struggle with the same issue, she created the Holiday Helper, a remote control hidden inside an ornament that when pressed, turns on all the tree’s lights.

Although the idea came to her naturally, Gifford said it was one of the most difficult parts of the invention challenge.

“The hardest part was coming up with the idea,” Gifford said. “Everything else was pretty easy.”

The Holiday Helper is just one of 27 inventions created by Kennedy’s class, many of which if available to the regular consumer, would be hot items on retail shelves.

“I told Eva that if Christmas didn’t already pass I may need to take that one home with me,” said Kennedy with a laugh. “It’s very creative.”

The students will get to showcase their inventions during the program, which will be reviewed by a panel of judges ranging from retired teachers to local business owners.

The students also will be required to give a speech and answer interview questions from the judges who will ask where their idea came from, how they constructed their device and how it will benefit future consumers.

Although some of the students are nervous to be a part of the invention convention, those nerves are suppressed when they unveil their creations to the world.

“You could make history for it,” fourth grader Ty Gravert said.

“You could help people,” added Brooke Paasch.

But either way, as Kennedy said, the students get to create anything they can imagine and that is what really matters.