Oskaloosa.com

Local News

March 8, 2010

Invent Iowa fosters creative thinking in young minds

OSKALOOSA — If there's a problem, they'll solve it.

Elementary and middle school students from all over Mahaska County and beyond participated in the regional Invent Iowa competition Saturday. Each student was given the task of solving a real world problem with an invention of their own design.

Ron Shafer of the Great Prairie AEA hosted the event at Penn Central Mall Saturday.

The Invent Iowa program, which has been around for more than 20 years, allows young students to get creative while solving a problem with their inventions, said Shafer.

"The actual focus is on creative thinking and problem solving and application," explained Shafer. "A lot of the education today is focused on conceptual understanding, so what we want students to be able to do is to understand a big idea and also to transfer that and apply it to a real world application."

All of the students' inventions have to be an original idea that hasn't been invented before, said Shafer. He added, a big part of the invention process for the kids is keeping a log of their thought process throughout the invention's creation. This often includes making a prototype of the invention and finding problems with it before going back to the drawing board and figuring out how to make it better, said Shafer.

Shafer said most of the time spent on these invention projects is done outside of school on the students' own time.

"In some cases, students have worked on their inventions for several months," Shafer said.

Each of Iowa's regional AEAs have competitions like the one held at Penn Central Mall Saturday. Once students make it to the state competition, their inventions are judged once again, said Shafer.

About 300 students from around the state of Iowa will be attending the state competition April 24 at Carver Hawkeye Arena on the University of Iowa campus in Iowa City.

Ultimately, students at the state level competition not only earn statewide recognition, but are also eligible for $1,000 college scholarships.

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Herald City Editor Andy Goodell can be reached at news2@oskyherald.com

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