After several weeks spent studying some of the world’s most influential inventors, students at The Episcopal School of Dallas capitalized on their creative-thinking and problem-solving skills to develop their own devices for the second annual Invention Convention. Be it a piece of sports equipment, like the Lacrosse Boss, or a child-proof airbag for cars, the student pairings exceed expectations with their solutions to real-world problems.
“The Child Air Bag is a smaller and semi-deflated airbag that is safer for young children,” students Andrew Carrie and Henry Hamlin explained. “Our invention will make parents feel so much less concerned about their child’s safety knowing they won’t be hit with an adult airbag if the car gets in an accident.”
“Getting children to engage in the design process as they worked on these inventions and creations has been great practice in terms of collaborating with one another to solve a problem, learning to fail and try again, and then perfecting the speaking component in the form of a trade show, Chelle Wabrek, Assistant Head of Lower School said.
Another group of students took a more educational approach and invented a device that improves one’s lacrosse game.
Cren Boyd and Grace Exall turned an ordinary lacrosse stick into a teaching tool that tracks an athlete’s movement and then offers advice on how to better pass and catch the ball.
Leading up to the convention, students were instructed to complete a “Student Patent Application” that included an explanation and sketch of their invention. The application required an analysis of how the invention could positively contribute to society. Once approved by their teacher, the students received a patent number and permission to begin writing their business plan and consumer information presentations.
“I liked how we got to make the presentations on our ideas,” Alex Dabbous said. “I also liked how we learned to speak in front of adults and our friends while expressing our creativity.”
Each invention also needed to have a creative name, company title, the price of the device, and where it could be purchased. Some groups even went so far as to create slogans, jingles, and T-shirts to better market their products.
“Everyone was thoroughly engaged throughout this student-driven project,” fourth-grade teacher Brenda Wilder said. “The unit really allowed fourth graders to demonstrate independence and ownership, and they thrived!”
Final presentations were unveiled at the Invention Convention in front of a packed crowd that included fourth-grade classmates, younger peers, parents, and Lower School faculty and staff members. As consumers rotated between the tables, students recited their proposals and offered their best sales pitch for their product.
Other presentations at the Invention Convention included a solar-powered and holographic video game console; a software program that transforms a person’s voice into computer text; and a “Kid Entertainer” that produces clothing, pacifiers, toys, and even a stroller at the click of a button.
“I realized that it is hard to be a manufacturer and entrepreneur,” fourth-grade student John Cahoon said. “I think it is interesting that at this young age we were given a chance to come up with inventions that were completely our own.”