Young inventors shine in Colchester

By Melanie Savage - Staff Writer
Colchester - posted Mon., Mar. 14, 2011
Sixth-grader Christopher Kirk receives a certificate for his invention. With him are: Deborah Sandberg (back to camera), Principal at Jack Jackter Intermediate School; Laura Messinger, enrichment specialist; and Judy O'Meara, Assistant Principal at Jack Jackter. Photos by Melanie Savage.
Sixth-grader Christopher Kirk receives a certificate for his invention. With him are: Deborah Sandberg (back to camera), Principal at Jack Jackter Intermediate School; Laura Messinger, enrichment specialist; and Judy O'Meara, Assistant Principal at Jack Jackter. Photos by Melanie Savage.

More than 100 students from grades three through eight expressed an interest in participating in this year’s Colchester local Invention Convention competition. Forty-eight students gathered the evening of March 10 at Jack Jackter Intermediate School, for an opportunity to show off their inventions and receive certificates of recognition. “Tonight is a celebration for every student who is up on this stage,” said Laura Messinger, enrichment specialist for Jack Jackter and William J. Johnston Middle School.

“Every year, participation has grown,” said Messinger. The event is open to any student at either school. “We increased the number of students who actually followed through with inventions when we instituted the creative problem-solving luncheons,” said Messinger. A total of 18 luncheons held during the school day help kids bring their ideas from the planning stage to fruition.

The resulting inventions were displayed proudly in the gymnasium of the school. Each and every child was called up to the podium to receive a certificate specifically tailored to his or her project. Fourth-grader Hunter Simone, for example, was recognized for the “Most Eco-Friendly Invention.” His “Ecosquito” was inspired by a Fourth of July celebration at his grandma’s house. “I saw that she was using lots of candles to keep the bugs away,” he said. Simone’s invention uses LED lights to lure mosquitos to a lantern fitted with sticky panels. It eliminates the need for candles or pesticide sprays, which introduce pollutants into the environment. “And sprays don’t feel too good on you,” said Simone.

Third-grader Veronica Krystofik received a certificate recognizing the creativity of her display. Her “Solar Safety Stick” setup featured an actual fire hydrant and a  mailbox. Krystofik’s intent was to make mailboxes and fire hydrants more visible at night. “Sometimes it is hard for emergency crews to find an address,” she said in her invention log. “My mom also has trouble getting to the mailbox at night, when cars are coming, without a light. Sometimes firemen have trouble finding fire hydrants at night and in bad weather.”

Pets inspired a number of inventions, including: the "Cleaner Cage,” from fifth-grader Audra Kingsley; the "Bridle Scratcher,” from fourth-grader Kristina Paggioli; the "Bailey Glove,” from 8-year-old Bailey Gilbert; the “Cozy Pet Co-Sleeper,” from 8-year-old Rachel Wells; the “Woof Wrap,” from fourth-grader Maile Blumberger; and “Kittens Only,” from third-grader Myra Brown.

Sixth-grader Nick Janus came up with an item that was especially appropriate, in light of this past winter’s weather. His “Snow Defier” is a deck featuring a railing on one side that slides down (think baby crib rail), so that snow can be easily pushed off of your deck. “I think we all could have used that this winter,” said Jack Jackter Principal Deborah Sandberg.

Volunteer judges devoted more than three hours conducting judges' circles, where they deliberated and selected students to best represent Colchester at the Connecticut Invention Convention, held at UConn’s Gampel Pavilion in May. “Students chosen will receive invitations by mail,” said Messinger. “To ensure that they and their families, as well as the families of all our other amazing inventors, are the first to know, I will wait to share that information with everyone else.” Students who have been chosen for the state convention will be honored in April, and “in May we will also be able to celebrate any students who receive awards at the Connecticut Invention Convention,” said Messinger.


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