Hundreds of students and nearly 40 schools in the Murfreesboro area participated in the 23rd annual Invention Convention hosted by MTSU’s Department of Elementary and Special Education on Thursday.
Students in 4th, 5th and 6th grades gathered in the Student Union Building to present their inventions to the judges. Inventions were divided into two categories: “Make Life Easier” and “Games.”
All participating students were members of the Extended School Program, which is designed for gifted students, according to Michelle Spaulding, one of the parents of a young inventor.
Students from all over Middle Tennessee came up with inventions such as wallets that do not require pockets, a seizure detector for dogs and a board game in which a player must escape the Ebola virus, to name a few.
“This is the highlight of their year,” said Donna McRae, the parent of a young inventor from Lebanon. “We really appreciate MTSU doing this for [the students].”
This is McRae’s 5th year attending the Invention Convention. Her oldest child used to be involved until he was no longer of age, but this time her 5th grade son Jackson participated, designing the game “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” alongside his classmate Hope McDonald.
In Jackson and Hope’s game, players throw aluminum, paper and plastic into miniature recycling bins to earn points. As the two young inventors explained it, the slogan of the game is “learning disguised as fun.”
Dr. Tracey Huddleston, professor and director of the Center of Educational Media, welcomed guests with help from Vice Provost of Academic Affairs John Omachonu.
“Looking at the displays, I couldn’t help but be a little bit jealous. I kept saying to myself ‘If I had the opportunities you have at your age, I wonder what life would be like for me now,’” Omachonu told the young inventors. “I am so proud of you young people when I look at your displays.”
Entries for inventions and games were first submitted as a proposal, which began the judging process. Then, the children constructed their inventions after school hours through the Extended School Program, according to Huddleston.
The students presented their inventions to a series of judges while parents and teachers were asked to explore MTSU’s campus in the meantime.
The convention concluded with an awards ceremony to honor the students’ achievements.
“My son did not come here today for the awards,” said Alex Williams, parent of one of the participating students. “My son is here for the fun. He is so smart, and this is just something he enjoys.”
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