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University of Iowa News Release


March 27, 2008

UI to host annual Invention Convention April 5 in Carver Hawkeye Arena

Have you ever seen a product in the store or on TV and wondered why you didn't think of it first? Would you like to know how a "Boredom Buster for Livestock," a "Drool Dabber," a "Paws Prohibited: TLC (Toilet Lid Closure)," or a "Sled Slingshot" could impact your life?

You'll find these and many more inventions at the Invent Iowa 2008 State Convention Saturday, April 5, at the University of Iowa Carver Hawkeye Arena. The event begins at 8 a.m. with registration and setup of the inventions, followed by a ceremony recognizing the inventors from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. The public will have a chance to see the inventions from noon to 1 p.m.

Students in third through 10th grade representing 145 towns throughout Iowa participated in local and regional invention conventions this year to qualify for the State Invention Convention. A total of 358 students will present 266 inventions to demonstrate solutions they feel will make life easier or more enjoyable for many people.

This is the 21st year for the statewide invention convention, which alternates between the UI and Iowa State campuses. 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 as well as the UI and ISU Colleges of Engineering. U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin has been a staunch supporter of Invent Iowa since its inception in 1987. Over the past two decades, approximately a half million students have participated in Invent Iowa.

"Some students are very altruistic with the inventions they create," said Clar Baldus, Invent Iowa State Convention coordinator and administrator for the Inventiveness in the Belin-Blank Center. "In school, students are handed problems to solve every day. Invent Iowa encourages students to decide what the problem is and to solve it themselves with whatever technical skills they have at that point."

To reach the state convention, inventions must first qualify at local and regional conventions sponsored by the state's Area Educational Associations and regional coordinators. Students selected as meritorious winners at the state invention convention will each receive a $50 savings bond. Additionally, six inventors will be awarded $500 scholarships from the UI and ISU Colleges of Engineering that can be applied toward tuition if the students ultimately attend either college.

"Once they reach this point they are considered state inventors," Baldus said. "The state convention is about celebrating this accomplishment."

In the past, inventors from the convention have been featured on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, in Wallaces Farmer magazine, and in other national media outlets.

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, at 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

EDITOR'S NOTE: Reporters and photographers are invited to the event to interview the inventors and to photograph or get footage of their invention displays. The best time to speak with students is 8 to 9:30 and noon to 1 p.m.

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

MEDIA CONTACTS: Clar M. Baldus, Belin-Blank Center, 800-336-6463,; Lois J. Gray, 319-384-0077,; Writer: Gloria Hurtado