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University of Iowa News Release


Dec. 19, 2008

Photo: Matt Moran (left) and Sam Hipple (right) show off their "Mega Melter" with Dan Ariens, CEO of Ariens Co., a product they invented for the 2008 Invention Convention at the University of Iowa. Click here for a high-resolution image.

Patent pending for Invent Iowa winners' 'Mega Melter'

Heavy snowfall last winter inspired seventh-grade Davenport students Sam Hipple and Matt Moran to look for an easier way to remove snow and ice from their sidewalk and driveway. A year later they are in the process of getting a patent for their "Mega Melter" invention, which dispenses salt while clearing snow beneath the handlebars of an Ariens snow thrower.

Last April, Hipple and Moran were two of 357 students to enter their product into the Invent Iowa 2008 Convention, held at the University of Iowa Carver Hawkeye Arena. The annual event is sponsored by the UI College Of Education's Connie Belin and Jacqueline N. Blank International Center for Gifted Education and Talent Development as well as the UI and ISU Colleges of Engineering. Each year the convention alternates between the UI and ISU campuses.

Since winning the convention, Hipple and Moran, who are students at Sudlow Intermediate School in the Davenport Community School District, have been invited to five other Eastern Iowa schools to talk to students about the program.

"Winning the competition has definitely built our confidence and taught us how to work as a team," Hipple said of their success. "We've even inspired other students to participate in the program."

Hipple said he enjoyed the process of qualifying for local and regional conventions and advancing to the state convention the most. They were selected as meritorious winners and each received a $50 savings bond and $500 scholarship from the UI and ISU Colleges of Engineering that can be applied toward tuition if they attend either school.

A pending provisional patent has been filed in the boys' names and in November they signed a letter of intent with Ariens Co. to commercialize "Mega Melter" to be produced and distributed as early as next year.

Invent Iowa is a multidisciplinary program designed for students in grades kindergarten through high school. The curriculum is accessible for free through the Belin Blank Web site and has been used worldwide. Each year more than 30,000 students participate in Invent Iowa activities. Students are encouraged to develop inventions that meet the requirements for a patent in the United States: they must be "new, useful and non-obvious." Students are also encouraged to keep journals documenting their inventions' development from concept to completion.

For more information contact Clar Baldus, 1-800-336-6463,, or visit

The Belin-Blank Center is part of the UI College of Education. Founded in 1872, the University of Iowa College of Education was the nation's first permanent college-level department of education. Since then, the college has gained an international reputation of excellence in programs as diverse as Rehabilitation Counseling, Statistics and Measurement, Counseling Psychology, Elementary and Secondary Teacher Education, Higher Education, and Educational Administration. The College of Education is also home to the Iowa Tests of Basic Skills. For more information visit

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

MEDIA CONTACTS: Rene Hipple, 563-370-2727,; Clar M. Baldus, Belin-Blank Center, 800-336-6463,; Lois J. Gray, 319-384-0077,; Writer: Caroline Jones