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University of Iowa News Release


April 17, 2009

Photo: (top, right) Students Rachel Harold (left) and Libby Havenridge, both of Council Bluffs, display their invention at the 2008 Invention Convention at Carver Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City.

Annual Invention Convention features student innovation April 25 at ISU

Do you waste time brushing your teeth the traditional way? Thanks to the "Two Heads Tooth Brush," you can now brush your upper and lower teeth at the same time. This invention and others like the "Switchable Sports Shoe" and the "Rub A Dub Dub Doggy Tub," will make life easier for many time-crunched people.

You'll find these inventions and many more at the Invent Iowa 2009 State Convention Saturday, April 25, hosted by the Iowa State University College of Engineering at Hilton Coliseum. 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 11th grade representing 135 towns throughout Iowa participated in local and regional invention conventions this year to qualify for the State Invention Convention. A total of 349 students will present 272 inventions to demonstrate solutions they feel will make life easier or more enjoyable for many people.

This is the 22nd year for the statewide invention convention, which alternates between the University of Iowa 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.

"Invent Iowa is one of the original Science, Technology, Engineering, & Math (STEM) initiatives. It not only encourages STEM-based skills, but it helps to discover and support student talent that is sometimes overlooked in the traditional academic setting," said Clar Baldus, Invent Iowa State Convention coordinator and administrator for the Inventiveness programs at the Belin-Blank Center.

"Rather than solving assigned problems, Invent Iowa students identify a problem that is important to them and create an invention that solves the problem," she said.

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, at the Iowa State Fair and in other national and state media outlets.

Invent Iowa is a multidisciplinary program designed for students from 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 Baldus at 1-800-336-6463 or 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

To view a video from last year's Invention Convention, 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, University News Services, 319-384-0077,; Writer: Megan McIntyre