CONTACT: STEPHEN PRADARELLI
100 Old Public Library
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 384-0007; fax (319) 384-0024
Release: April 25, 2001
UI, Iowa State to hold Invent Iowa 2001 April 29
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- You've got to agree with 11-year-old Steve Hobart of Indianola
-- those cardboard X-ray holders that dentists stick in your mouth taste pretty
"They always make me gag," says Hobart, a sixth-grader at Indianola
Middle School whose mom is a dental hygienist.
So Hobart set to work finding a way to make the cardboard more palatable.
After dousing them with various fruity concoctions -- most of which just left
the cardboard soggy -- he struck upon an idea. He put some of the holders
in an airtight container for several days along with cotton balls soaked in
flavor extracts of strawberry, mint and cherry, and, voila! Flavored X-rays.
Hobart is one of 367 young inventors from across the state who will showcase
293 projects at the 2001 State Invention Convention at Iowa State University
Sunday, April 29. The program, sponsored by the Connie Belin and Jacqueline
N. Blank International Center for Gifted Education and Talent Development
and the UI and Iowa State Colleges of Engineering, will bring together students
in third-grade through high school to demonstrate inventions that they think
will make life easier for people -- or at least more entertaining. A sampling
of this year's innovations include products with such intriguing names as
Old Maid Away, Peanut Butter Slices, the Sizzlin' Stool and Different Colors
Invent Iowa will take place in ISU's Memorial Union Sunday, with evaluations
from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and a public viewing session from 12:30 to 2:30
p.m. Recognition ceremonies are scheduled for 2 p.m. and 3:15 p.m.
"Invent Iowa is a great way to help students of all ages develop their
creative and inventive problem-solving talents," said Clar M. Baldus,
Ph.D., state coordinator of Invent Iowa, as well as administrator of the Belin-Blank
Center's Rural Schools Programs and Inventiveness Programs. "Students
use creative as well as critical thinking to develop an invention that will
solve what they see 'real-world' problems. The best part is that students
gain inventive problem solving skills that carry over into their lives."
Now in its 14th year, Invent Iowa is far more than a science fair. Students
are encouraged to develop inventions or innovations that generally meet the
requirements for a patent in the United States. In other words, they must
be "new, useful and non-obvious." To make the experience more meaningful,
students are encouraged to keep journals chronicling their inventions from
concept to completion.
To reach the state convention, inventions must first pass the muster at local
and regional meets sponsored by the state's 15 Area Educational Associations.
Last year's Invent Iowa state competition was held at the UI, which has agreed
with Iowa State to alternate campus sites each year.
A new element added to the convention this year was a "Vision of Inventiveness"
competition that encouraged Iowa students in kindergarten through high school
to submit artwork for the event. Nearly 200 young artists entered works. Eisel,
which features an easel made from a guitar, a shovel, stacked paint cans and
a compass, was submitted by 12th-grader Jeff Connor of Corydon. It was selected
to adorn the back of this year's Invent Iowa t-shirts, which are given to
all participants. And The Power of One, a work by 12th-grader David Schmitz
of Charles City featuring hands sketching around a circle that says "Dream,
Believe, Create," was selected for the program cover illustration.
It's clear many students dream about eating, given the number of inventions
with food themes this year. For instance, Old Maid Away, an invention by fourth-grader
Lindsey Schaefer of Eason Elementary School in Waukee, used screen-like hardware
cloth in a bowl to separate popped corn from the unpopped seeds, or "old
maids." Brandon Lash, a sixth-grader at Montezuma Community Schools,
got tired of tearing his bread whenever he tried to spread on peanut butter.
After several trials, he came up with Peanut Butter Slices -- peanut butter
spread on wax paper coated with powdered sugar (to keep it from sticking)
and hardened in the freezer for easy application.
Sixth-graders Anna Troester of Garnavillo and Abby Kruse of Garber found
the task of giving their families' 40 milk cows the right mix of feeds a little
daunting, since many of the cows have special dietary requirements. So they
developed a color-coding system, using a wall chart that corresponds with
colored Velcro strips affixed to each cow's stall. Black means the cow gets
no protein in its diet, red means less protein, green means more protein,
yellow means no corn, and so on. Thus, Different Colors for Different Cows.
Comfort and convenience were the objectives of other inventors. Seventh-graders
Josie Kness and Olivia Krall of Albia developed the Sizzlin' Stool by affixing
a heating pad to the underside of a
director's chair to make cold weather outings -- such as tailgating parties,
camping and livestock shows -- more bearable. Dustin Swisher, a sixth-grader
at Grinnell Middle School who has cerebral palsy and suffers from seizures,
and brother Corey Swisher, also a sixth-grader at Grinnell, invented the Golf
Helper -- a golf club attached to a stand with a pivot so the club can be
directed and swung more easily.
Fifth-grader Lacey Stogdill and fourth-grader Colton Stogdill of Lewis and
Clark Elementary School in Council Bluffs have a mom who works with handicapped
children. When their mother remarked that she couldn't find bibs big enough
to accommodate older children, Lacey and Colton set about to create the Big
Kid Bib by removing the sleeves from old shirts and covering the shirts with
The Shelf Sorter for the Blind is the brainchild of Sarah Barnes, a third-grader
from Letts who was moved by a television news story she saw about blind people.
The Shelf Sorter uses wood rails to create separate spaces for various kinds
of canned goods, with each space identified by a small placard written on
"I thought with this invention it would help blind people be more independent,
so they would be able to do more things for themselves," Barnes wrote
in the paperwork accompanying her application to Invent Iowa. "Sometimes
it's hard to rely on someone always being there to help you."
More information about Invent Iowa is available at the Belin-Blank Web site: