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Ideas turn into inventions at Elm School

Published: Tuesday, May 14, 2013 11:01 a.m. CDT
(Sarah Minor -
Megan Kubycheck demonstrates her Touch-Up & Go invention on Tuesday, May 7.

BURR RIDGE – Thomas Edison is considered one of the greatest inventors of all time, but even he couldn't think of a remedy for getting out of bed early.

On May 7, fifth-graders at Elm Elementary School showed off their creative side in an "Invention Convention" presentation, where their own creations were put on display. One of those inventions was "Clock Smell," by Lillian Kloubec.

“I thought, I can't get up on time, so I should invent something to help," said Lillian, 11, of Hinsdale.

After a few days of pondering and some prototypes, Lillian came up with the idea to use an old-fashioned alarm clock and a motion-sensor air freshener. When the bells on top of the clock ring, it forces a wand to wave over the sensor, releasing an aroma.

"I tried it with my sister and it worked on her because she can never get up either, but I haven't tried it with myself," Lillian said.

Elm School Principal Jeana Considine said Invention Convention has been taking place at the school for more than 15 years as part of the language arts curriculum.

"They start by coming up with something that bugs them and identify the problem," Considine said. "Then they brainstorm lots of different ideas, so it's all about creativity and thinking outside of the box."

What bugged 10-year-old Jaffar Ali of Hinsdale was having to always put on his jacket, then his backpack. To speed up the process, and protect himself and his materials from rain, Jaffar created the "Jack Pack" – a combination of a jacket and backpack.

"Inside would be all your school materials; pencils, papers, books, money and iPod," Jaffar said. "Once it's a rainy day, all your stuff would be in there and it wouldn't get wet."

Making the Jack Pack took about two hours. Jaffar used a glue gun and sewing machine to add a zipped compartment to the back of his windbreaker.

Jaffar said it's lighter and looks better than a backpack.

Other students, such as Perry Zhao, wanted to invent something to assist one of his favorite hobbies – playing board games. With any board game comes small pieces, which somehow always become magnets for ending up under the couch.

To help with the dilemma, Perry created "The SIM," or Stuck Item Multi-tool.

The invention consists of a hollow broom handle, a flashlight and a coat hanger.

"I actually created this out of scrap material," Perry said. "It was fairly easy to make."

Perry demonstrated the tool by using some board pieces and a nearby bookshelf. He attached the miniature light to the end of the broom so he could see where the pieces were, then used the wide end of the hanger to reach and grab each piece.

Even though the creative process and project design doesn't officially start until March and April, that doesn't stop students from getting their ideas earlier.

"We've been doing this for so long that when the kids are in kindergarten, they start thinking about what they want to invent in fifth grade," Considine said.

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