By Cathy Nelson
HOT SPRINGS - Since last October, the Hot Springs Middle School students have been working on inventing and perfecting new and improved products that could potentially make life easier. On Thursday, May 10 the students and their teacher, Mrs. Katie Brunson, hosted an Inventors Showcase to exhibit their prototypes to family and friends. Some of the inventions will be submitted for patent.
Not only were the products that the students invented impressive, but the fact that this was the first time this program was conducted in the state, means they lacked a model to follow and had to invent the process. Brunson, with help of other teachers and students’ parents, created the program as they progressed through the months.
“It really was an all-school project,” Brunson said. “The teachers helped and encouraged the kids. The parents supported us financially and encouraged their kids to keep trying.”
The program had different phases shown on a Design Cycle. The Design Cycle was a way of making sure nothing slipped through the cracks by the time the students finished their designs, and it helped keep the students on track. The students were required to justify the need for the project, to explore existing products to make sure their ideas didn’t already exist and to gain information on how they could improve the product. They sketched the product and made a list of materials they needed. Then they created the solution. The plan was flexible, and the projects could be improved as the students worked on them. The students wrote down their processes in journals.
“Three prototypes are ready for patent and five are ready for final testing,” Brunson said. “Some students are still working on their projects.” Brunson said they had more failures than successes, so some students did not have prototypes to exhibit at the Inventors Showcase. There were 58 eighth grade students and 48 seventh grade students who participated in the project.
During the Inventors Showcase, Brunson showed a video of the students’ work, thanked all the people who had helped her and then presented Innovative Thinking Awards to eight of her students. Four were from eighth grade and four were from seventh grade. The Most Challenging Design award went to Will Kuhl, who invented a car door temperature regulator. The Best Attitude award went to Faun Hansen, who worked on Easy Peasy get-on leotards for dance. The Take the Bait award went to Braden Grill for his invention of the Sheep Detailer. The Persistence award went to Carle Spray, who invented a Spike Clip. The Networking:the Key to Success award went to Warren Russell, whose prototype was a Hybrid Static Neutralizer. The Helping Hand award went to Ciara Birdhaed, who created glasses with wipers. The Sign of Hope award went to Weston Watson, who created a Do-It-Yourself (DIY) speaker. The Perseverance award went to James Erskin, who is creating a magnetic marker.
“If you give kids a challenge, they will rise to it,” Brunson said. “They proved it can be done at this level.” She added that patience is important, and that she is proud of the students. When they started the process she was not sure if they would have a celebration at the end, but she challenged the kids. “I said if 50 percent of the kids were successful, we would have a dance.” And they did.
“The kids picked the decorations and the food and picked the colors blue, black and white, and all of us were dressed in those colors,” Brunson said. “We had a good attendance, and the kids were comfortable showing their prototypes. They were dressed well and performed well. We received very good reviews from the parents.”
Cathy Nelson/Fall River County Herald
Eight Hot Springs Middle School students received the Innovative Thinking Awards during the Inventors Showcase held Thursday evening, May 10 in Tays Auditorium in Hot Springs, where more than 300 people attended, plus 115 student inventors. They each invented or improved on useful products. In the front row, from left are Carle Spray and Faun Hansen. In the second row, from left are James Erskin, Warren Russell, Ciara Birdhaed and Weston Watson. In the back row, from left are Braden Grill and Will Kuhl. The awards were based on attitude and persistence as they were challenged to create a new or improved product. They are holding their prototypes.