Third-graders put their imaginations on display

Robert Green, above, a student at the Lawrence Brook Elementary School, shows his invention, "The Tissue Butler," to the East Brunswick Board of Education at its Feb. 28 meeting. Amanda Ligas, below, wears her invention, "Super Shades." Robert Green, above, a student at the Lawrence Brook Elementary School, shows his invention, “The Tissue Butler,” to the East Brunswick Board of Education at its Feb. 28 meeting. Amanda Ligas, below, wears her invention, “Super Shades.” EAST BRUNSWICK – If the Invention Convention is any indication,wemay one day be shopping for items like “Super Shades,” the “Tissue Butler” and “HappyHeels.”

Those were just a few of the imaginative devices that third-graders at Lawrence Brook Elementary School came up with for the annual convention, started three years ago by teacher Erica Dean and now run by Dean along with science teacher Lauren Paris. The program is part of an extension to the science curriculum and is designed to help promote creative thinking, Dean said.

The teachers introduce students to various inventors and inventions, and discuss how they have helped change people’s lives. Students then list problems they, their family members, siblings, friends or pets might have, that theywish could be resolvedwith a newinvention.Fromthis list, students brainstormways to solve the problems. They then select one and create an invention for it.

“They are required to complete an invention proposal on which they have to include a unique name for their invention, a description of how their invention works, the materials they will use to create the invention, as well as the problem this invention solves or how it will make our life easier,” Dean said.

Once the teacher approves the proposals, each student begins putting it together, building it at home with the assistance of family members,whichDean noted helps to get parentsmore involved in their child’s education.

The inventions are then brought to school and shared amongst classmates. Along with the completed invention, each student creates a display board with the name of their invention and inventor, a diagramormodel of the itemwith the parts labeled, a brief description of how it works, and what sparked the invention, the problem it solves or how it will make life better. The students also give a presentation.

The inventions are then showcased at the annual Invention Convention, for other students, parents, teachers and administrators. Students remain by their inventions and give oral presentations to “potential customers.”

The "Velcro Chessboard" was Andrew Costa's invention. The “Velcro Chessboard” was Andrew Costa’s invention. “Students are excited to complete this project becausemany of themenjoyworking with parents,” Dean said. “One student was able to work with his dad to design, measure and saw wood. His father helped him use a saw to create his invention, the “N.L.R.C.” (Never Lose Remote Control).” This featured a piece of wood with a short cord attached to it and a remote control. The wood is placed under a couch cushion or mattress, and the cord helps keep track of the remote control so it does not get lost.

Some other examples:

• “Happy Heels.” The student bought high heels, sawed off one heel, and placed Velcro where the heel was cut off as well as on the sawed-off heel. The heel can be attached to wear high heels, and simply undone for walking far or if feet start to hurt.

• “Super Shades.” The child took a headband and sunglasses, and attached the two together so both could be worn at the same time. This invention was among those showcased at a recent Board of Education meeting.

Nicole Merrill's "Massager Backpack." Nicole Merrill’s “Massager Backpack.” • “Tissue Butler.” This is a remotecontrolled tissue caddy, for people who are sick and lying on the couch or in bed. By using the remote, the “Tissue Butler” will drive itself to their side, complete with a box of tissues and a small garbage container.

• “Reflecto Protecto Trick-or-Treat Bag.” The bag is designedwith reflectors, visible to drivers, so that children can trick-or-treat safely at night.

• “Massaging Backpack 2000” is a book bag with a built-in massager to soothe shoulders that ache from heavy loads of books.

• “Leash Bag.” A dog leash is equipped with a bag to carry everything needed when walking the dog – treats, plastic bags, etc.

• “Handy Dandy PickerUpper” is a double sided cleaning tool. One side is a large pair of tongs that pick up garbage and other objects; it can be flipped over to the feather side, for dusting off.

Lawrence Brook Principal Christine Raymond praised the project as a great example of students, parents and teachers working together.

“Our third-grade students did an excellent job considering everyday problems and designing creative solutions to be displayed at our annual Invention Convention,” she said. “Their teachers encouraged critical thinking and problem solving to guide student achievement. Parents supported the project by helping to build the model. Working together we can achieve great things.”