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Cards Show Off Inventions

February 22, 2013

Staff photo/Janice Barniak: From left, Erica Ahlers demonstrates the Conpooy on Emily Alt with co-inventor Caity Bergman Thursday at the STEM fair.

NEW BREMEN — New Bremen Middle School students showcased their innovation Thursday at the Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) fair revealing not just their ability to invent, but also the nature of the problems they encounter in their everyday lives.

Teacher Tracy Steinke said that the fair started in 2010 as a requirement of the STEM grant the school received.

“We’re trying to get them more engineering focused, looking at problem solving,” she said.

The students are required to take their inventions through all steps of the engineering and design process.

They asked what problem to solve, imagined possible solutions, drew prototypes, researched materials, then built their product. Then they tested for ways to improve the products. Beauty products were a popular venue for innovation.

Erica Ahlers, Caity Bergman and Emily Alt, for example invented ConPooy, a three in one bottle of shampoo, conditioner and body wash for people travelling that has a loofah on the end of the bottle.

The advantage, they said was how portable it was, and that it has a suction cup on the side to keep it attached to a shower wall.

“If we mass produced it, we’d use a mold, not Gorilla Glue,” Alt said.

HOLAH heels, invented by Lexi Gray, Grace Fear and Lilly Hirschfeld, were heels with a flexible sole and adjustable inserts to raise the height of the heels, while Beaute Brush, a brush and powder holder in one, saved the trouble of buying two separate products.

Grant Hoehne, Ezra Ferguson and Logan Dicke created a three-in-one toothbrush, razor and toothpaste dispenser.

Other products were geared toward creating leisure. The Cooler Car, for example, was a drink cooler attached to the wheels and motor of a radio-controlled car. The inventors, Zach Flaute, Austin Schmitmeyer and Joe Mauer, said the drink carrier featured lots of extras, like hooks that carried bottle openers, and a light on the front that lets the cooler drive at night.

One problem the team encountered was getting a strong enough glue to hold the cooler. They also needed a better way to get the signal to the cooler, so they attached a metal spring. The light was also brighter than what they wanted.

“We turned it on and it kind of blinded us,” Flaute said.

Sports products were a popular place for innovation, including The Back’s Best Friend, a racquetball racket with a handle that picks up the ball to save a person from bending over, while Smart Seat was a memory foam and couch cushion seat that Paige Jones said was to save her mom from ‘bleacher back’ at sporting events.

The Smart Seat took 13 hours to stitch, but it was worth it, the inventors said, when Jones’ mom said she called dibs on the final design.

The Dog Trainer XXXL is a faux countertop that sits on top of a real countertop and, when a dog jumps on it, it says “bad dog.” The invention was inspired, said Ashley Paul, by her dogs Roxie and Chippie.

“My dog jumps on a countertop to get food, and he was okay the first time but if he eats the wrong thing he could die,” Paul said.

While student’s projects were scored, Steinke said it was more to judge efforts; no one was awarded a prize. The purpose, she said, was to spark the minds of the future inventors and to encourage them to find ways to improve.

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