NEWINGTON - Four students in town are being recognized nationally for inventions they created.
John Wallace Middle School’s Academy of Aerospace and Engineering served as the laboratory for these works, which received awards at the recent Connecticut Invention Convention State Finals. They’re also among a select group to advance to the STEMIE Coalition’s National Invention Convention and Entrepreneurship Expo (NICEE) May 31-June 2 at the Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation in Dearborn, Michigan.
John Wallace seventh-grader Julia Remiszewski and eighth-graders Alyse Karanian, Vidhisha Thakkar and Jasmine Barber are now preparing to present their inventions to a much wider audience.
Karanian received the Stanley Black & Decker Award, Eversource Energy Award and the CT Academy of Science & Engineering Award.
Her invention, “SolarShade,” is a window dressing that employs solar panels to power a room’s electricity.
“The individual slots can be angled to the sun to take in the maximum amount of light and energy,” Karanian said. “A single shade can power one room. If you had more than 320 shades they can power a 10- to 15-story building.”
Remiszewski received a Recognized Inventor Award for the “Bungee Buckle,” which secures the strap of swimming goggles around the head.
“So your goggles don’t fall off during competitive swimming,” said this inventor, who is also a competitive swimmer.
Thakkar received the CT Academy of Science & Engineering Award and a Recognized Inventor Award for the “Flow Alert” – designed to provide emergency assistance to a property owner during a flood or other natural disaster. It triggers an alarm, turns off valves, tracks the rising water rate, notifies emergency personnel and detects toxic contaminants.
“Lately there have been a lot more floods because of climate change,” Thakkar said. “We have the technology to develop this, we just haven’t yet.”
Barber’s “EasyClean” was made to solve a less serious problem than a flood, but a far more common one.
“The EasyClean is a small cube made from all-natural ingredients, that you use to loosen up hardened food and grease on kitchen pans,” said Barber, who now uses her invention at home.
“I am stuck doing the dishes in my family almost every day,” she pointed out. “I decided there should be an easier way without having to struggle so much.”
She won’t reveal all of the cube’s secret ingredients, but said it does contain sodium bicarbonate and citric acid.
Barber and Thakkar spent a recent afternoon weaving strands around nails on a wooden board, known as string art. This required an education on using basic tools, had of all academy students.
“The engineering design process emphasizes making a plan, doing research and then figuring out how to execute it,” Thakkar said.
All four finalists are part of the Innovations in Aerospace class, which stays late after school to work on individual projects and take part in rocket launching, drone flying and other activities.
Program leader Brian Holmes is proud of the group, which he said beat the odds.
“In Connecticut you have a less than one percent chance of going to nationals, and this is the second year we’ve had four students go,” he said.
Holmes attributes this high success rate to the academy’s specialized curriculum.
“All of the things taught at the expo, they do all year long,” he said. “ They get a lot of practice being creative and learning how to solve problems.”
The girls are excited to meet youth inventors from across the country on their upcoming trip.
“We’ll say, ‘Why didn’t I think of that?’” Thakkar said.
“Your environment influences what you create,” Barber added. “When you meet kids from different states you see they invented things they need where they live. Something I’ve learned is that everybody is an inventor. There isn’t one person who doesn’t have an idea they can turn into a product.”
Erica Drzewiecki can be reached at 860-801-5097 or firstname.lastname@example.org.