Budding inventors from five local schools took part in Yerba Buena Elementary's second annual Invention Convention on Monday evening.
Children from each of the western Las Virgenes Unified School District elementary schools—, , , and White Oak—exhibited their responses to the question: “What if...?”
What if you could invent a product to solve a problem? What would your product be? What problem would it solve? How much would you sell it for? Over 75 creative minds gave their answers in the form of product ideas and prototypes.
“I used to have an Invention Convention when I was a fourth- and fifth-grade teacher at Justice Elementary School,” said Yerba Buena Principal Christine Desiderio, explaining how the event, now in its second year, got started. “It was a big success, and I thought it would be great to have one here at YB.
"I love the way children’s minds work. It’s fantastic to see them get excited and be truly creative when asked a 'what if' question,” she said.
This year’s number of participants more than doubled from last year, Desiderio said.
The children were given six weeks to come up with an idea for an invention, create a product and make the presentation. Eleven student mentors helped the students work on their projects after school.
Each inventor received an award for participation.
Inventions included a glow-in-the-dark toilet seat (created because the inventor’s brother always left the seat up in the middle of the night); a "nite board" (a skateboard that lights up at night); a holiday secret safe (where parents can hide their children’s presents inside holiday decorations); a portable pet wash; an automatic fish feeder; an automatic sandwich maker; and the Backbrella (a backpack with a built-in umbrella).
During the event, two local residents spoke to the children about how far their creativity can take them.
John Fasano, a screenwriter, producer and director, told the children, “If you have an idea, you can make it. And if you have parents that tell you, like mine did, ‘No one can make that. You can never sell that,’ don’t believe them. You can make a product and sell it. Don’t believe the people who tell you you can’t. Believe in yourself.”
He went on to show the audience a set of dolls his daughter, then 13, designed, which were sold in Target stores. He also had a display of his drawings that became movie masks and DVDs of some of his movies.
Claudia Nichol, a former Yerba Buena computer teacher and 2001 INPEX (a national invention show) "Woman Inventor of the Year,” spoke about her invention, the SpeedSkin, a computer keyboard cover used in training students how to type.
“When I was teaching, I noticed that children kept looking down at the keyboard and slowing themselves down. I wanted to invent something that would enable them to see the screen but prevent them from looking down at their hands,” Nichol told the children.
Willow students Gia, 9, and Maya, 9, invented the Transpor-Table, a table that comes to you—via the remote-controlled toy car on which it sits. “If you are watching TV and want a snack but your mom or dad doesn’t feel like bringing it to you, they can put it on the Transpor-Table and the table will bring it right to you,” said Gia.
Yerba Buena third-graders Jonathan and Benji, eyeglass wearers, invented glasses with mini-wipers attached to keep their lenses clear in the rain.
“I really love to see the creativity of all the students here," said Carol Martino, Sumac L-STEM Academy principal. "The imagination and work these kids put into these projects is incredible. And I really love what John Fasano said: ‘If you love something, you can make it real.’ These kids are definitely making it real.”