Young inventors showcase talent in La Grange
Fifth-grader Will Cramer demonstrates his Bet Fair Machine, which releases a prize when strings are pulled, at the Invention Fair of St. Cletus School. | Jane Michaels—Sun-Times Media
Updated: April 8, 2013 2:03AM
LA GRANGE — Watch out, Wall Street. Fifth-graders at St. Cletus School are out to build a better mousetrap.
Technically, the 48 students completing projects for the Invention Fair in January didn’t come up with a mousetrap, but they brought many other innovative ideas to life.
“They had to come up with a new invention using at least two simple machines,” explained teacher Maggie Kensek.
“In the 12 years we’ve been doing this, we’ve never had two projects the same, though sometimes the same concepts were used,” Kensek said.
Brady Bourjaily rattled off the list of simple machines, which could be incorporated into the projects.
“You could use either a wheel, axel, screw, lever, inclined plane, wedges, pulleys or gears,” Brady said.
He developed the Christmas Tree Funnel for ease in watering the holiday tree.
“It has hooks, which are levers, and the funnel is an inclined plane,” he said. “It’s so my dad doesn’t have to get on his knees to water the tree.”
Will Cramer’s project also was inspired by his father.
“This is the Bet Fair Machine. I made it because when my dad loses a bet, he would never pay up,” Will explained.
“If I win, I take the strings and pull out, and the prize empties into the container,” he said while gently tugging on string winding through four pulleys attached to a wooden structure.
Cate Rossmiller said her design of the Easy Transporter was inspired by her friend who lives next door. In her model, a tiny basket of books hung from ropes moved by pulleys between two small houses.
“My neighbor has really cool toys, and we always wanted to be able to share without going outside to her house, and the same with returning it,” Cate said.
Bradley Jaunich developed the Laundry Detergent Helper, featuring a large scoop that revolves like a Ferris wheel to fill up with powdered detergent, which is then dumped into the washer.
“I learned a lot doing this project,” Bradley said. “There was a lot of writing, and now I know how to explain stuff and build stuff.”
Kensek said her students had to keep a log of their progress and write 10 journal entries as part of the process to complete a long-term project. They gave demonstrations Jan. 25 and explained their findings to parents.
Arianna Klapsis invented the Paw Paw, designed to feed her toy poodle, Mia, while the family was out. Mia had to tug on a pink toy on a string and lever that released chow in a dish.
“We went outside and put a video camera up. It was really funny,” Arianna said. “She didn’t know how to use it at first but she came back and got it.”