Students unveiled their prototypes in first-ever Invention Convention to encourage innovative thinking

by: TIMES PHOTOS: JAIME VALDEZ - Jack Briggs, 11, shows youngsters a headband he invented with headphones built into the lining during the Invention Convention at Charles F. Tigard Elementary School. At Charles F. Tigard Elementary School, the next great invention awaits.

Students at the school have spent the last several weeks working on projects for the school’s first-ever Invention Convention on Thursday, with more than 130 fifth graders coming up with one-of-a-kind solutions for real world problems.

“We are hoping to do this every year,” said Carol Anderson, who teaches fifth grade.

Many schools offer science fairs, but Anderson turned that idea on its head, giving students the chance to come up with their own inventions, make prototypes and present them to the school.

“So often as teachers we tell them what to do with an assignment, but this gave them the opportunity to be creative. And it’s a beautiful thing.”

Anderson said she got the idea after her husband, who works at Intel, said that he was seeing a lack of science and engineering in recent college graduates.

“Science is such a big thing for them to know,” she said. “It has been great, and the kids have all worked so hard.”

Students learned about all kinds of great inventions, such as the typewriter, penicillin, computers and sticky notes.

On Thursday, students opened up their classrooms to parents and other students and gave presentations on their inventions.

Anderson said that if students can get interested in science and engineering they can be more creative and innovative.

“What I’m seeing them producing is encouraging,” she said. “There is hope.”

Many inventions, like one by 11-year-old Josh Schleichardt, could easily be turned into real products, Anderson said.

“I wan to patent some of these, quit my job and make million,” Anderson joked.

Schleichardt invented a canister that baseball players can spit sunflower seeds into.

One end of the canister is for new seeds, while the other offers a space where players can spit their seeds after they are finished.

“I spend a lot of time at baseball fields and I play baseball too,” Schleichardt said. “I see people spitting seeds all the time and making messes. My teammates sometimes spit seeds into my helmet or my gloves, so I came up with this invention and instead of making mess, they spit them in here and you don’t make a mess.”

by: TIMES PHOTOS: JAIME VALDEZ - Josh Schleichardt, 11, holds a canister he invented that baseball players can spit sunflower seeds into during the Invention Convention at Charles F. Tigard Elementary School. Schleichardt’s “Seed Buddy” even has a tagline already: “Stop the messes, spit responsibly.”

“My teacher said she could imagine this going to (Major League Baseball) players and them using them in the dugout,” Schleichardt said.

Many of the inventions worked to solve a problem students faced in their day-to-day lives.

Alex Ettenberger, 10, invented a machine that cleans the teacher’s whiteboard automatically.

“It’s called ‘The Cleaner,’” Ettenberger said. “It takes to long to erase the board. Just too long.”

The machine uses an old car windshield wiper and a motor to clean the board with the flip of a switch.

Jack Briggs, 11, invented a headband with headphones built into the lining.

“I had this dream about these gigantic brains with built-in earphones and I thought to build this,” he said.

The invention lets people go jogging without headphones falling off, he said.

“My mom had this problem,” Briggs said. “She was running and her earphones were always fall off.”

Briggs polled 30 people from around his school. All but one said they would buy the device.

“My teacher said she’d buy it for $17 after the Invention Convention was done!” Briggs said.

Sam Usrey, 11, came up with a solution that he says every student at CFT will need.

“My teacher never, ever calls on me,” he said.

So Usrey invented a padded armrest that helps prop his arm up when it gets tired.

“It raises your hand for you, and it’s comfortable,” he said. “In our class, sometimes our teacher never calls on us and it gets really tiring. This will really help our whole class.”

And what did his teacher, Dean Botsford, say about the invention?

“He just laughed,” Usrey said. “He said, ‘Well that’s a smart idea because it’s very true.’”

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