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University of Iowa News Release

Sept. 5, 2006

Iowa Students Show Off Gadgets, Gizmos In UI State Fair Exhibit

Twenty-four young inventors from across Iowa displayed their entries from the 19th annual Invent Iowa State Invention Convention in the University of Iowa's exhibit at the 2006 Iowa State Fair in Des Moines on Aug. 13.

The UI's Office of University Relations selected from among some 372 fellow inventors and co-inventors who participated in the Invent Iowa State Convention on the UI campus April 22. The inventions were selected for the fair as representative examples of the many imaginative, creative and often very useful items generated by bright minds across Iowa and presented at the annual Invention Convention.

Invent Iowa is sponsored by the UI College of Education's Connie Belin and Jacqueline N. Blank International Center for Gifted Education and Talent Development and the UI and Iowa State University Colleges of Engineering

This year's convention brought together inventors and co-inventors of 276 inventions representing 151 Iowa cities and towns. The convention, a culmination of local and regional competitions, is open to students in grades three to 12.

To reach the state level, students are encouraged to develop inventions that meet the general requirements for a patent in the United States: they must be "new, useful and non-obvious." Students also are encouraged to keep journals chronicling their inventions' development from concept to completion.

The Invent Iowa exhibit was just one of many that were offered this year in the UI booth during the fair, which ran from Aug. 10-20. The booth, located in the southwest quadrant of the Varied Industries Building, also featured visits by Hawkeye athletes and other special guests, as well as daily drawings for giveaways, Hawkeye temporary tattoos, health checks and information and dozens of daily presentations on everything from medicine and science to art and economic development.

EDITORS: Receipt of this release indicates that someone from your coverage area is mentioned. Information follows below in this order: hometown, bio (including student's name, parents or guardians, age, grade entering in fall 2006 and school); name and description of the invention; any comments, if provided by the student; and a link to a high-resolution photo of the inventor and/or co-inventor at the fair. Entries with asterisks denote co-inventors of the same invention.

ATKINS

Bio: Ashley Frimml (co-inventor with Emily Dye), daughter of Chris and Julie Frimml, 10 years old, fifth grade, Norway Elementary School.

Invention: The Soapster - How many times have you gone to use a soap dispenser and found dirt on the handle? Yuck! This invention solves that problem. A foot pump is used to run liquid soap up through a plastic tube and out onto a person's hands so she can clean up without touching a thing.

Comments: "When you touch a soap dispenser that's used by a lot of people, you can catch germs. With this you pump with your foot, air enters the chamber and the soap comes out over the sink."

Photo: http://news-releases.uiowa.edu/2006/september/fair-inventors/frimml-dye.jpg (Frimml is on the left)

BETTENDORF

Bio: Morgan Hoke, son of Dale and Renee Hoke, 13 years old, ninth grade, Pleasant Valley High School.

Invention: Graduated Brake Lights - In the mockup of this invention, a wooden brake pedal is connected electronically to a bank of tiny lights that glow green when the brake is not engaged. As the brake is pushed in further, the lights incrementally turn to red until, when the brake is pushed to its limit, all of the lights glow red. Hoke says that by having the lights glow green when the brake is not engaged, drivers are less likely to be deceived by sunlight reflecting off the red brake light covers.

Comments: "My mom rear-ended someone one day because she could not tell how fast the person was stopping."

Photo: http://news-releases.uiowa.edu/2006/september/fair-inventors/hoke.jpg

BETTENDORF

Bio: Amy Whiteman, daughter of Diane and Mike, 10 years old, sixth grade, Bettendorf Middle School.

Invention: Picnic Pal - Have you ever tried to picnic on a windy day? Paper plates - sometimes full of food - have a way of flying up in the air, and sometimes land on the picnickers. This invention includes a wicker paper plate holder with a metal plate in the bottom that holds tight to a special placemat with a magnet sewn inside.

Comments: "I tested it with a fan and it works pretty good."

Photo: http://news-releases.uiowa.edu/2006/september/fair-inventors/whiteman.jpg

CAMANCHE

Bio: Aubrey Petersen, daughter of Matt and Renee Petersen, nine years old, fourth grade, Camanche Elementary School.

Invention: The Leftey - Because their writing hand follows the pen, left-handed students often get ink smears on their skin. The Leftey prevents that. Made from a micro-fiber fabric, the device looks like a partial glove that fits onto the pinky-side of the user's hand and is held in place with a Velcro strap.

Comments: "It's hard for me when I write because I'm left-handed and I get smudges from the ink. It was always kind of embarrassing. The Leftey keeps the ink off my hand."

Photo: http://news-releases.uiowa.edu/2006/september/fair-inventors/petersen.jpg

CARLISLE

Bio: Hannah Rush (co-inventor with Claudia Farrell), daughter of Tim and Kerri Rush, 10 years old, fifth grade, Jefferson Elementary School.

Invention: Fuzzy Phone Sock - Talking on the phone for a long time and leave you with a sore throat, sweaty hands and a sore ear. These colorful, soft, thick fabric "socks" can be slipped over phones and feature mesh small windows that allow access to push buttons and a view of the display screens of portable phones.

Comments: "I got socks for Christmas, and since my friend and I talk a lot our hands got sweaty and our ears hurt."

Photo: http://news-releases.uiowa.edu/2006/september/fair-inventors/rush-farrell.jpg (Rush is on the left)

CARLISLE

Bio: Claudia Farrell (co-inventor with Hannah Rush), daughter of Willie and Jenny Farrell, 10 years old, fifth grade, Jefferson Elementary School.

Invention: Fuzzy Phone Sock - Talking on the phone for a long time and leave you with a sore throat, sweaty hands and a sore ear. These colorful, soft, thick fabric "socks" can be slipped over phones and feature mesh small windows that allow access to push buttons and a view of the display screens of portable phones.

Comments: "We're going to try to market it, and we might come up with one for a cell phone that has elastic around it to keep it on."

Photo: http://news-releases.uiowa.edu/2006/september/fair-inventors/rush-farrell.jpg (Farrell is on the right)

DAKOTA CITY

Bio: Kessa Kuyper (co-inventor with twin brother Kenny Kuyper), daughter of Ken and Marilyn Kuyper, 10 years old, fourth grade, Taft Elementary School.

Invention: Snow Steps - The invention consists of chain-connected wood slats with a rubberized surface on one side and 90-degree angle brackets on the back that can dig into the snow and ice and prevent the steps from slipping. It can be used for climbing up slippery snow hills after sledding. When finished using the Snow Steps, the invention can be easily rolled up for storage.

Comments: "We live on a hill and it's really hard to get up it with our sleds."

Photo: http://news-releases.uiowa.edu/2006/september/fair-inventors/kuyper.jpg (Kessa is on the left)

DAKOTA CITY

Bio: Kenny Kuyper (co-inventor with twin sister Kessa Kuyper), son of Ken and Marilyn Kuyper, 10 years old, fourth grade, Taft Elementary School.

Invention: Snow Steps - The invention consists of chain-connected wood slats with a rubberized surface on one side and 90-degree angle brackets on the back that can dig into the snow and ice and prevent the steps from slipping. It can be used for climbing up slippery snow hills after sledding. When finished using the Snow Steps, the invention can be easily rolled up for storage.

Comments: "If a hill is still too slippery, the invention has extra rope to tie to a tree at the top of the hill."

Photo: http://news-releases.uiowa.edu/2006/september/fair-inventors/kuyper.jpg (Kenny is on the right)

DES MOINES

Bio: McKinsey Johnson, daughter of Mac Johnson and Christina Whitmore, 12 years old, seventh grade, McCombs Middle School.

Invention: The Mitten Mate - Children are always losing gloves and mittens. Even clips used to attach them to coats can become detached. This invention solves that problem. A pouch is attached by Velcro to the sleeves of a coat or jacket, and the mittens or gloves hang from a string sewn into the pouch. When the gloves aren't in use, they can be tucked into the pouch for safekeeping.

Comments: "I came up with the invention because I saw how much money my parents were spending on gloves and mittens."

Photo: http://news-releases.uiowa.edu/2006/september/fair-inventors/johnson.jpg

HUMBOLDT

Bio: Talon Hoefer (co-inventor with Brady Ross), son of Rich and Jennifer Hoefer, 10 years old, fourth grade, Taft Elementary School.

Invention: Extreme Auto Dry 5000 - A box that can sit over a heating and air conditioning vent in the house is connected to several PVC pipes with holes. Wet garments, such as hats and gloves, can be slid onto the pipe and dried by the air coming up through the vent. 

Comments: "We wanted to come up with something that dried our gloves because they start to stink if you leave them out too long."

Photo: http://news-releases.uiowa.edu/2006/september/fair-inventors/hoefer-ross.jpg (Hoefer is on the left)

HUMBOLDT

Bio: Brady Ross (co-inventor with Talon Hoefer), son of Todd and Becky Ross, 10 years old, fourth grade, Taft Elementary School.

Invention: Extreme Auto Dry 5000 - A box that can sit over a heating and air conditioning vent in the house is connected to several PVC pipes with holes. Wet garments, such as hats and gloves, can be slid onto the pipe and dried by the air coming up through the vent.

Comments: "Although some inventions use hair driers or other things to warm the air, our invention uses heat already coming out of the house vents, so it's good for people who don't like to spend extra money on energy."

Photo: http://news-releases.uiowa.edu/2006/september/fair-inventors/hoefer-ross.jpg (Ross is on the right)

LAKE MILLS

Bio: Luke Kayser, son of Jeff and Heidi Kayser, 10 years old, fifth grade, Lake Mills Community School.

Invention: The Recycle-Matic - Recycling newspapers is good for the environment, but bundling them up can be a hassle. This invention makes the job easier. The user simply places a stack of papers into a plastic crate with twine pre-strung from spools attached to the crate sides and run across the top opening. Scissors are attached by Velcro for easy removal and clipping of the twine once it's tied.

Comments: "I always have to take out the recycling, and once when I went out it was windy and the paper blew all over. This invention stops that from happening."

Photo: http://news-releases.uiowa.edu/2006/september/fair-inventors/kayser.jpg

LATIMER

Bio: Karter Miller, daughter of Therron and Marsha Miller, 10 years old, fifth grade, Cal Community School.

Invention: Kitty Scratch & Catch - A freestanding play area for cats that features carpet-covered scratch post supports on the sides, several pieces of fishing line strung vertically and hung with plastic fish and other toys for the cat to bat, and a Plexiglas-enclosed display of seashells, sea plants and other ocean-themed items. Miller says the hanging toys, and background objects, could be changed to suit the interests of any cat - or cat owner.

Comments: "My cat's name is Tom, and he kept scratching on my mom's furniture. So I created a crate with carpet on it. But Tom thought it was boring, so I put fish on vertical fish line so he could play with it."

Photo: http://news-releases.uiowa.edu/2006/september/fair-inventors/miller.jpg

MELCHER

Bio: Logan Hoelting, son of Julia and Keith Hoelting, 12 years old, sixth grade, Dallas Elementary School.

Invention: No Pain Christmas Tree Waterer - Watering a Christmas tree can be a real pain; it's hard to crawl under the branches with a bottle full of water without getting poked and scratched by the pine needles or covered in sap. This invention is made of a funnel painted green to blend in with the needles and is placed mid-height in the tree for easy pouring. The water then runs through a plastic tube that snakes down to the tree stand and water reservoir. The owner need only pour water in the funnel to keep the tree watered, with no muss or fuss. A ping-pong ball in the water reservoir is attached to a thin wire that runs up through the tube and serves as a dipstick to let the owner know when the reservoir is full.

Comments: "My mom always has trouble getting under the tree to water it. She had to move presents and was poked by needles. If I did the invention again, I'd have it with buttons you could push to water the tree by itself."

Photo: http://news-releases.uiowa.edu/2006/september/fair-inventors/hoelting.jpg

NEWHALL

Bio: Emily Dye (co-inventor with Ashley Frimml), daughter of Dave and Samantha Dye, 11 years old, fifth grade, Norway Elementary School.

Invention: The Soapster - How many times have you gone to use a soap dispenser and found dirt on the handle? This invention solves that problem. A foot pump is used to run liquid soap up through a plastic tube and out onto a person's hands so they can clean up without touching a thing.

Comments: "Our goal was to cut down on sickness from people touching dirty soap dispensers."

Photo: http://news-releases.uiowa.edu/2006/september/fair-inventors/frimml-dye.jpg (Dye is on the right)

RAYMOND

Bio: Samantha Sproul (co-inventor with Maggie McCarthy), daughter of Craig and Kris Sproul, 11 years old, fifth grade, Blessed Sacrament School, Waterloo.

Invention: American Girl Organizer - An organizer that uses small hangars and bars for storing American Girl doll clothing and accessories.

Comments: "We were cleaning up our dolls one day and trying to use the storage case that came with them, but it didn't work very well and the clothes would clutter up our rooms."

Photo: http://news-releases.uiowa.edu/2006/september/fair-inventors/mccarthy-sproul.jpg (Sproul is on the right)

RED OAK

Bio: Margo Elarton (co-inventor with Bevin Griffen), daughter of Randy and Jennifer Elarton, 11 years old, sixth grade, Red Oak Middle School.

Invention: Wash 'N' Wipe - Washing windows used to be a chore - until now! This invention is a spring-loaded squeegee that can easily attach to the bottle of your favorite glass cleaner. Just squirt, and squeegee.

Comments: "We thought it would be easier for kids to use around the house."

Photo: http://news-releases.uiowa.edu/2006/september/fair-inventors/griffen-elarton.jpg (Elarton is on the right)

RED OAK

Bio: Bevin Griffen (co-inventor with Margo Elarton), daughter of Paul and Ellen Griffen, 11 years old, sixth grade, Red Oak Middle School.

Invention: Wash 'N' Wipe - Washing windows used to be a chore - until now! This invention is a spring-loaded squeegee that can easily attach to the bottle of your favorite glass cleaner. Just squirt, and squeegee.

Comments: "We think it's fun to use. Plus, it saves trees by not using paper towels."

Photo: http://news-releases.uiowa.edu/2006/september/fair-inventors/griffen-elarton.jpg (Griffen is on the left)

RICHLAND

Bio: Rachel Shaw, daughter of Dave and Janice Shaw, 12 years old, seventh grade, Pekin School, Packwood

Invention: Mommy I Need Tags - For in-home childcare providers and day care centers, remembering to remind parents to bring replacement supplies (such as diapers, formula, extra clothing or baby wipes) can be a challenge during the hubbub of drop-off and pickup. These tags have 12 pre-written messages child-care providers can simply strap onto a child's diaper bag or backpack as soon as she thinks of something that's needed. There are also blank tags to write down reminders for other items. They can also be used by dads who aren't sure what to pack for outings with their children.

Comments: "My mom babysits and often forgets to tell parents when she needs stuff. The tags were a way to help her let parents know when their kids run out of diapers so she wouldn't run out of supplies. It also makes the parents' lives easier."

Photo: http://news-releases.uiowa.edu/2006/september/fair-inventors/shaw.jpg

SILVER CITY

Bio: Emily Nelson (co-inventor with Emily Mejstrik), daughter of Penny and Wes Nelson, 10 years old, fifth grade, Treynor Elementary School.

Invention: Cuddle Me Warm - These Teddy Bears have a secret compartment (held shut with Velcro) that contains a fabric pouch filled with corn that can be removed, warmed in the microwave and reinserted so the stuffed animal is cuddly and warm.

Comments: "We found one bear that already had a pouch, but for the second bear that we made we had to cut a slit and sew it so the stuffing wouldn't fall out."

Photo: http://news-releases.uiowa.edu/2006/september/fair-inventors/mejstrik-nelson.jpg (Nelson is on the right)

SOLON

Bio: Owen Sherman, son of Scott and Karen Sherman, 10 years old, fourth grade, Lakeview Elementary School.

Invention: Candyland for the Blind - Candyland is one of a child's first, and most favorite, games with its bright colors and candy theme. But young children who are blind miss out on the fun. This invention changes that. Each colored space has a raised surface with a special symbol, as do all of the playing cards, so children who are blind can determine by touch where their game piece is and where to move when they draw a card.

Comments: "I thought that children who are born blind should be able to play. Since young people can't read Braille yet, I used special symbols like an arrow for blue, a dot for purple and an X for yellow. A friend of mine who is blind tried it out and really liked it."

Photo: http://news-releases.uiowa.edu/2006/september/fair-inventors/sherman.jpg

TREYNOR

Bio: Emily Mejstrik (co-inventor with Emily Nelson), daughter of C.J. and Krista Mejstrik, 10 years old, fifth grade, Treynor Elementary School.

Invention: Cuddle Me Warm - These Teddy Bears have a secret compartment (held shut with Velcro) that contains a fabric pouch filled with corn that can be removed, warmed in the microwave and reinserted so the stuffed animal is cuddly and warm.

Comments: "My grandma used to make pouches we could heat up to keep our feet warm in the winter. I thought it would be better to have a warm teddy bear."

Photo: http://news-releases.uiowa.edu/2006/september/fair-inventors/mejstrik-nelson.jpg (Mejstrik is on the left)

UNDERWOOD

Bio: Brandon Darrington, son of Brian and Brenda Darrington, 11 years old, sixth grade, Underwood Middle School.

Invention: The Great Bucket Wagon - A standard child's wagon has been modified with a wooden top with two large holes cut to accommodate feed buckets, so the feed can be pulled out to livestock.

Comments: "We have about 115 head of cattle, and my chore is to feed them, but the wire handles hurt my hands and the buckets are heavy to carry. This invention makes it a lot easier."

Photo: http://news-releases.uiowa.edu/2006/september/fair-inventors/darrington.jpg

Waterloo

Bio: Maggie McCarthy (co-inventor with Samantha Sproul), daughter of Doug and Kelli McCarthy, 11 years old, fifth grade, Blessed Sacrament School, Waterloo.

Invention: American Girl Organizer - An organizer that uses small hangars and bars for storing American Girl doll clothing and accessories.

Comments: Asked if she and her co-inventor have tried to sell any of the organizers, McCarthy said, "A friend in class wanted one, but we really haven't told anyone else about the invention."

Photo: http://news-releases.uiowa.edu/2006/september/fair-inventors/mccarthy-sproul.jpg (McCarthy is on the left)

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

MEDIA CONTACT: Stephen J. Pradarelli, 319-384-0007, stephen-pradarelli@uiowa.edu