A cat-scratching post/toohbrusher was one design in West Madison's Invention Convention. (CONTRIBUTED)
A cat-scratching post/toohbrusher was one design in West Madison's Invention Convention. (CONTRIBUTED)

Archived Story

West Madison inventors devise time-saving, lifesaving gadgets

Published 5:14pm Saturday, May 18, 2013

MADISON – Students exercised energy, insight and creativity for the Invention Convention at West Madison Elementary School.

“My students amaze me,” gifted specialist Wendy Tibbs said. Tibbs revived the ‘convention’ after its hiatus so students could experience the creative problem-solving process.

She instructed students to first “identify a problem they’re personally connected to and develop possible solutions. Then, students researched that solution (Does it already exist? If so, could they modify it and innovate so their solution is, again, ‘new?’).”

After working on a prototype, they surveyed “potential users to discover a target audience. Finally, students brainstormed possible names, logos, jingles and slogans” for marketing, Tibbs said.

Two inventions that stood out involved a simple yet well-developed idea and another that applied dynamic marketing. “One petite student has obviously been asked to dust in high places,” Tibbs said. “Her invention is a tiny dust cloth attached to a tiny, battery-powered car. Think ‘tiny Roomba.’”

“Another crowd pleaser was a magnetic jewelry holder. You just fling your earrings towards it and, like magic, it grabs and holds them,” Tibbs said.

A “Honey Bunny” soothed jangled nerves with calming Bible verses. Another invention was a cat-scratching post that also brushes the cat’s teeth.

Having moved to Madison after Hurricane Katrina, one student wanted an underground apartment as a safe place for families during violent weather. “She used a box and doll furniture to illustrate her idea,” Tibbs said. “My main constraint was the problem had to have personal relevance to the inventor.”

Inventors in the Invention Convention convened in the West Madison library to exhibit their designs to other fourth-graders. “Third-grade students toured the event, much like a trade show,” Tibbs said. “Inventors answered questions, explained their invention and gauged student interest. One student actually received several orders for her invention.”

The convention gave students better understanding of “time management and empowerment to change things bothering or hard for them,” Tibbs said.

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