Young Inventors Recognized

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Woodhull Elementary School’s early elementary class teacher Karen McNulty has provided invention opportunities in her classroom each year for many years and, this year, she partnered with Eastern Suffolk BOCES technology integration specialist Deborah Gerken to give students the opportunity for their inventions to be recognized in the Spark!Lab InBae Yoon Invent It Challenge.
To participate in the contest, which is run by the Smithsonian Institution and Cricket Media, students had to create an invention that will improve the lives of aging adults. To begin the invention process the students first had to imagine, with empathy, the challenges older adults face. They identified a walking cane as an invention on which they could improve and then used their science, technology, engineering and mathematics skills to sketch, revise, prototype and eventually create the finished product: an all-weather walking cane with GPS, interchangeable handles, quick-release for height adjustment, an extra support for getting up out of a chair, and on-board lighting for seeing in the dark.

Contest entries were judged according to how well the invention lived up to the contest’s theme and also how faithfully the inventors followed the process guidelines. Mrs. McNulty and Mrs. Gerken used video to document the various stages of the invention process and ultimately submitted a 30-minute piece on the invention of “The Cane That Can,” which now appears on the contest website alongside other winners and honorable mention entries.

As a result of their work, the students’ group entry was one of five in its age division to receive honorable mention among the 235 total entries.