Simon Kresse’s Legos of various sizes and colors often ended up a mixed pile in his room, making it difficult to find the specific pieces he wanted to play with.
But the 6-year-old recently invented “Simon’s Super Lego Sorter,” which successfully addresses the vexing situation.
Simon, a kindergartner at Olmsted School 64, was the youngest of 155 area students whose inventions were on display Sunday in the 12th annual Western New York Invention Convention in the Sullivan Campus Center at Medaille College. It’s a program of the Niagara Frontier Intellectual Property Law Association that is funded by local organizations.
“Our mission is to encourage creative problem solving and scientific thinking in students in grades K through 8,” said Merry Constantino, director of the Invention Convention.
That mission appeared accomplished from a convention boasting more than 120 creative inventions that aimed to solve a multitude of problems – from universal ones to personal pet peeves. For instance, Jackson Mysliwy, a fifth-grader at Fletcher Elementary in Tonawanda, invented “Easy Doo,” a dog biscuit recipe with food coloring and carrot that turns his pet’s feces orange, to help him and his brothers avoid stepping in the feces when they are playing in their backyard. On the other hand, 9-year-old Caleb Senick, a student at Kadimah School whose father suffers from celiac disease, developed “Gluten X,” a portable solution that quickly confirms the presence of gluten in foods for people on diets restricting the protein.
“When they’re out eating at a restaurant and the server doesn’t know if the food has gluten, they can just take this out of their pockets,” he said. “It’s a portable backup to the server.”
And Dylan Scotch, a 10-year-old from Akron Central School, offered the “Solar Panel Snow Squeegeez,” to quickly remove snow from solar panels on roofs after his family couldn’t safely clean snow from their solar panels this past winter.
“Getting on a ladder is too dangerous,” Dylan said. “So we left the snow on the solar panels until it melted. But that’s not good because the snow blocked the sun, and solar panels need the sunlight to work.”
Caleb and Dylan received the highest honors during the event’s awards ceremony – “Young Inventor of the Year” – in the kindergarten-to-fourth-grade and fifth-to-eighth-grade groups, respectively. There were other awards, including “Director’s Choice,” which went to Jackson.
More than 450 people attended the convention, perusing inventions with names such as “Edible Plate Liners” and “Talking Measuring Cups.”
“These inventions are not only technically sophisticated, but they can go to market tomorrow,” said Andy Parker, WGRZ meteorologist and emcee of the event.
Constantino said the event has grown in participants and attendance. It began with only two schools and was originally held at the Buffalo Museum of Science.
“But we ran out of space and had to move here,” she said.
Sunday’s participants were the top 15 winners from their schools’ competitions. The program impacts more than 1,500 students who participate in schoolwide competitions, Constantino said.
At School 64, there were 75 inventors, and they were encouraged to solve a problem, improve an existing product or create something new when they started the project, said Maria Valenti Barone, a teacher of gifted and talented students at the school.
The young inventors spent days to weeks brainstorming and researching ideas and then creating models of their inventions. Simon was inspired by his dad’s coin sorter when tackling his messy Legos and then it took him three days, with help from his mother, to create the sorter using plastic containers.
“Now my Legos are in order, and it’s easy to do,” Simon said.