Katherine Spires had a problem with the bristles of her toothbrush getting caught in her braces. “It was really annoying,” she said, “because it took forever to get them out.”
Spires and three other eighth-graders at York Middle School turned her problem into an opportunity. They invented a manual toothbrush with more flexible bristles, designed to clean around the braces without getting caught in them.
Spires and her team mates, Alex Saucedo, Payton Greer and Shelby Harbst, were among 24 teams who participated Friday in 21st century inventors fair at the school.
The 24 projects were chosen by teachers as the top inventions produced by about 400 eighth-graders for their science classes. The science teachers who led the project are Jacqueline Danko, Amy Lambert, Alicia Thompson and Shonica Jordan.
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Students were asked to take a product and make it better. Danko said this required each team to go through an engineering design process and solve problems.
The students said they learned a lot about creating an invention in the process. They did market research on products and materials, surveyed other students on their preferences and estimated the costs.
They also learned to start with a simple design and add to that.
“It’s leading us into the business world,” Spice said about the invention process.
Many students said the process also made them think about the products they use every day and how someone created them. Said Spires: “It’s not as easy as it looks.”
The student teams tackled a variety of inventions.
Ryan Kelley, Hunter Parks, Olivia Caulder and Dru Brakefield invented a washer-dryer combo machine. The students said they thought it would be easier for people who don’t like to do laundry to use one machine that does both jobs.
A better binder was the idea of Harley Falls, Abby Fields and Jaelin Gossett. They examined binder problems like broken rings and torn pockets in creating their own binder.
Their goal, said Falls, was “to basically improve everything about it.”
They also wanted it to carry a lot of stuff. “We wanted to combine everything a student would need for a typical school day in one binder,” said Gossett.
Some of the other invention ideas taken on by students include a prosthetic leg, a cellphone case that glows in the dark and reflects light during the day, a spoon, knife and fork combination, a drip-catcher mug and an “art shack” designed to hold supplies.
“Overall, I’m really impressed with the students’ creativity and the work they put into it,” Danko said. “They were excited about it and produced some good products.”
She said the project seemed to fuel a lot of enthusiasm, even in students who don’t usually like science.
Kinley McManis, who invented the reflect and glow cellphone case with team members Jackson Good, Jordyn Burton and Hunter Neely, said they had to work together.
“We learned how to teach each others’ ideas into consideration to make the best design,” she said.
During Friday’s fair, the students’ inventions were evaluated by a team of 10 judges from the community, and the top three inventions were chosen.
The top projects chosen Friday are:
▪ First place, Get Clean, by Andrea Phelps, Bre Moss and Alley Mackey, a wash cloth that fits to your hand and that you insert soap into so the soap does not drop.
▪ Second place, Paper Tower, by Lane Towery and Alix Chapman, a toilet paper dispenser that allows you to have up to five rolls at your disposal.
▪ Third place, Cruzy Coozie, by Bailey Tumblin, a floating coozie drink holder.
Jennifer Becknell • 803-329-4077