Students Recognized for Clever Inventions

Hayground School students including, from left, Eve Achuthan-Kozar, Rive Weiner, Leslie Samuel, Felicia Franklin, Kodiak Tarrant-Papasadora, and Nico Pontecorvo, with their teacher, Julie Fanelli-Denny, earned recognition for their health-related inventions. Christine Sampson

Their inventions ranged widely, but they shared a common theme: They were the original creations of Hayground School students working together to crack a challenging problem.

Every one of their projects garnered an honorable mention, out of more than 300 entries in the 2016 Spark!Lab Global Invent It Challenge, sponsored by ePals, an education media company, and the Smithsonian Institute’s Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation. The students will represent Hayground next year as ambassadors to others entering the 2017 competition.

Julie Fanelli-Denny, who teaches children ages 6 through 11, said the project gave her students “an authentic challenge to invent something that meets the needs of a larger community.” Their task was to create something that would solve a health problem.

Eve Achuthan-Kozar and Rive Weiner created “Cat Armor” to protect a cat owner from scratches. Kodiak Tarrant-Papasodora and Felicia Franklin, after much trial and error, invented the “Seaweed Bag,” an alternative to plastic shopping bags made from seaweed and other natural materials. Nico Pontecorvo and Leslie Samuel came up with the “Gripper Glove” to help someone grasp and hold on to objects.

The students “work collaboratively to solve problems,” sharing their experiences, Ms. Fanelli-Denny said, to troubleshoot, test prototypes, and offer suggestions to each other. They then present their inventions to be judged by scientists and other professionals. “They do real, meaningful work that becomes important to them as they become more invested in solving their problem,” she said.

All the teams said they had fun working on their inventions and that becoming ambassadors would be great.

“On a scale from 1 to 10, it was a 10,” said Rive. “The thing I liked about it most was researching it. I liked working on it, but it was really hard, because we had to do a lot of prototypes.”

Her teammate, Eve, said being an ambassador “feels like a big responsibility.”

“It feels like we can accomplish many things in our life now,” she said.