2013-04-18 / Front Page
Pupils’ imagination on display at McAuliffe Invention Fair
Students are challenged to think ‘out of the box’
A bout half of the sixth-grade pupils at the Christa McAuliffe Middle School in Jackson channeled the likes of Apple founder Steve Jobs and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg at the sixth annual Invention Fair on April 9 as they showed off what could be some of tomorrow’s major technologies.
With each invention perched on a library bookshelf for friends and family members to see, not one baking-soda volcano or potato powered light bulb was on display.
According to science teacher Megan Isaksen, the lack of those typical science fair projects was by design. “This is not the typical science fair; this is something where [the students] have to think outside the box and think of something that has not been created yet,” Isaksen said.
The pupils’ inventions ranged from the Ball-Boni by Mike Schiazza, which would work like a magnetized Zamboni for baseballs, to an iPhone case with a hidden compartment called the CaseBuddy by Stephanie Silvan and Alexis Vizzi.
Pupils participating in the Invention Fair, which is headed by Isaksen and three of her fellow middle school science teachers, Melissa Hans, Melissa Weyandt and Paige Sobolchick, not only had to produce their inventions, but they also had to use a number of learning tools to familiarize themselves with the process of going from the planning phase to creating a viable business model. “This is a generation of kids where you get the remote control, and the TV turns on. You get on a ride at Great Adventure, and you go 100 mph,” Principal Robert Rotante said. “What’s nice about the Invention Fair is that it teaches kids to think about how things work.”
Isaksen said that three months ago, the pupils were tasked with coming up with an invention and comparing it to existing patents by using Google Patents.
Marketing and financial planning also played a role in the pupils’ work. Breakdowns of production costs and profit margins were displayed alongside homemade business cards and a price tag with every item.
“You are wasting your money every time you lose your socks,” said Dayna Virga, who along with her friend Brianna McNair was describing a pair of socks held together with Velcro. Dayna displayed the tenacity of a television pitchman as she explained the footwear innovation.
With a focus on multi-disciplinary learning, Rotante said the Invention Fair falls in line with the Jackson School District’s focus on the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) initiative.