Alice Drive Elementary School students display STEM inventions

BY DANNY KELLY danny@theitem.com
Posted 5/24/19

The Alice Drive Elementary School cafeteria didn't look much like a cafeteria on Monday night but more like a science lab.

That's because the school was holding its STEM-inspired Invention Convention, where students displayed projects they made …

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Alice Drive Elementary School students display STEM inventions

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The Alice Drive Elementary School cafeteria didn't look much like a cafeteria on Monday night but more like a science lab.

That's because the school was holding its STEM-inspired Invention Convention, where students displayed projects they made with a science, technology, engineering and math focus. But, these weren't just any contraptions.

"They had the opportunity this year to invent an actual prototype that would solve a problem," ADES fifth- grade math and science teacher Kim Johnston said. "And, we told the students to think of something personal, and so it's just an awesome event for their family and friends to come out and kind of see what they've been working on and put their hearts into."

Johnston said she is glad students could invent something that intrigued them and that the project helped develop their problem-solving skills.

"As a teacher, that's what it's all about," she said. "I want my students to learn, but I want them to love learning. I want them to enjoy it, and I want them to take that learning to the next level."

Projects included a charm bracelet to help remember chores, a mesh bag to prevent the loss of socks when washing them, a trash basket that had another trash bag instantly ready when you removed the old one and a duck extractor, which was invented by fifth-graders Jenkins Andrews and Joseph Chapman.

"Our problem was picking up ducks when you shoot them in the duck hole," Andrews said. "Well, we couldn't get them if they went so deep, and it would just be wasted, and we don't want that. So what we invented was an RC boat with a net on front; it drives out, and when you get to it (the duck), you gas it (the boat) and it goes down, lifts up under the duck, and once you do that, you can drive it back, and there's no more wasted ducks."

Chapman said he thinks they have a better solution to retrieving dead ducks as opposed to using dogs.

"The only solution that people have made so far is using dogs," he said. "But the thing is, when you have dogs, the vet (and) food (are) real expensive, and I'd rather have a dog just to hang out with instead of having to train him. Dogs can get sassy when you're trying to train them, and then they don't want to be trained."

Andrews said the whole experience was worthwhile.

"(What I liked was) working together and inventing something that we really needed," he said, "and being able to use it and seeing all that we've done. It's just knowing that you made it."

Chapman said making the duck extractor was rewarding.

"It's pretty fun," he said. "The (most) fun part is seeing it work because you have all the processes and all the paperwork and everything you have to do. And then the best part is just getting the sigh of relief of seeing it come back to you."