Are you tired of losing socks in the laundry? Do your kids always make a mess trying to pour milk from a gallon jug? Do you wish there were more eco-friendly alternatives to plastics?
At Cinnaminson’s 34th Annual Invention Convention at Memorial School, more than 60 students sought solutions to problems like these, ranging from everyday annoyances to pressing global issues like energy and pollution.
“Inventing embodies many core curriculum skills and is what keeps our nation in the forefront of new ideas leading to new businesses and increased productivity. We need to encourage creativity and innovation to keep America strong, and it must begin with our children,” said Elaine Mendelow, former Cinnaminson teacher and coordinator of the annual event.
Since its inception 34 years ago, Mendelow has organized the event. Watching students grow and move on to do great things keeps her coming back year after year.
“They all have memories that are indelible. They can tell me what they did here 20, 30 years ago, which is really remarkable,” said Mendelow.
This year’s convention placed emphasis on inventions that aim to reduce our carbon footprint or make a difference for the future of our Earth. Mendelow wrote a grant request to Sustainable South Jersey and was awarded a $500 grant to pay for gifts for any student inventor whose idea had to do with sustainability.
Two fourth-grade students from Rush Intermediate School, Abbey DiPasquale and Madelyn Ellis took this direction to heart with their invention, S.E.A. (Save Every Animal) Twine.
The girls came up with a creative solution to plastic in oceans with an alternative to the infamous plastic rings used for canned beverages. The girls say they were inspired by their shared love of animals and the plight of sea turtles, who often end up on the receiving end of ocean pollution.
“We don’t want any animals to get hurt, and if fish eat it, technically we’re eating it if we eat the fish,” said DiPasquale.
The girls experimented with different materials that were more environmentally friendly than plastic, braiding them into a twine ring that could wrap around a soda can in the same manner as a plastic ring. Of all the materials they tried, the two found that hemp held up the best during their trials.
New to the convention this year was a series for high school students. They were asked to come up with ideas for apps with a real world impact.
Freshman students Anthony Vallone and Sule Kurt came up with an app idea to keep families connected in our fast-moving world called Find My Family. Living up to its namesake, the app does just that. Anyone in your family group will appear on a map via the GPS system in their phone. Should someone’s phone lose power, the app’s Last Seen feature can provide their last known location.
A goal for the inventors was to make their app available to any family, regardless of their budget.
“Some people can’t afford premium services, or don’t want to pay for every family member so it’s all free,” said Kurt.
The app also features quick access icons to send notifications to everyone in your family or to alert emergency services like police and EMTs at the touch of a button.
“I hope it’s used to prevent people from getting lost,” said Vallone.