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Inventive minds

Fifth-graders come up with their own inventions, some realistic and useful, others driven purely by imagination.

By EVE LEBERSON, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published February 23, 2003


WEST MEADOWS -- Andrea Daun calls them "Babe Wipes."

It's an innovation inspired by her 16-year-old sister. "She takes up the whole bathroom with her makeup, and I get a small corner," said the Clark Elementary fifth-grader. "No room for me."

Organization was essential to the creation, one of 135 at the school's Invention Convention Day on Wednesday.

Eye shadow, lipstick and foundation pressed in a facial wipe, packaged with small cotton swab applicators in a plastic container. Price: $3 per pack.

"They just slip in your purse and whenever you need a touch-up on makeup, just take the applicator and put it on," explained the 10-year-old. "They're a more compact and convenient way to have it all organized, and it's easy to use."

A few desks away stood Alea Agrawal, creator of "Chores Galore 2003." This robot will clean your house on command. Remote control included.

"I think it would be nice for people who have to work or kids like me and my sister, who are lazy," said Alea, 10. "I don't like to do chores when a TV show is on."

Classmate Jennifer Joyce made the "Sweet Tooth Pentium," a candy machine that could make her favorite candy instantly. That way, she said, "I can have it any time I want."

Then there was "Hair-O-Matic," a helmet that styles your hair; a "Kid Catcher 3000," which sounds an alarm when a sibling is attempting to enter your room; and an automatic "Doughnut Dispenser."

Mere childhood fantasies?

Maybe, or maybe not. "Who knows what will happen in the future?" said the event's coordinator, fifth-grade teacher Sara Suarez.

But "the idea was for them to do something creative."

Students presented 3-D models, written advertisements and log books, documenting the steps involved in making their product. They even had to apply for pretend patents to prove the ideas were theirs.

"Some of them were practical and realistic. Some were more imaginative. Any type of creativity was encouraged," Suarez said.

Many "took a situation in their own life that they thought was a problem and that could use a solution," teacher Robin Napoli said. Sibling- and homework-related inventions seemed popular, she said.

The best part?

"It puts aside the paper and the worksheets for a while and lets them be really creative," Napoli said. "They love education best when they don't realize they're learning something."

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