Once again, students from across the region came to campus to showcase their creativity, as BSU hosted the ninth annual Invention Convention.
One thing’s for sure, these middle school students have had their thinking caps on, producing a wide range of inventions. One by one, the teams demonstrated their projects inside the auditorium of the Conant Science and Math Center. “This year’s entries were great, unique,” said Mary Price, director of the university’s Center for Pre K-12 Educational Outreach, which funds and operates the program.
This year's entries included an all-purpose belt, the Safety Sofa, the Rain Catcher 9000 and something called The Funky Olive.
The students who sign on to the program have their work cut out for them. Not only must they come up with a solid idea that’s related to science, technology, engineering or math, they must design and build the project. Also, the teams must keep a journal, record the time spent working on the project, prepare presentation materials, meet deadlines, keep a budget, and write a summation paper about their experience.
The process allows students to gain much from their participation in the program, said Mary Price, director of the Center for Pre K-12 Educational Outreach.
“They learn how to work together as a group, do research to make sure their project is unique, engage in inquiry-based learning and use engineering skills,” she said.
Just as important, the program fills gaps that exist in the curricula of many area middle schools, Ms. Price added. “Because of all the testing and the MCAS, many students don’t always get to participate in project-based learning addictives and this gives them the opportunity,” she said.
Over the past nine years, several Invention Convention alumni have gone on to study engineering and related fields.
A few teams have even sought patents for their invention.
This year, the participants were Bridgewater Middle School, Ahern Middle School of Foxboro, Chatham Middle School, Normandin Middle School of New Bedford, Abigail Adams Middle School of Weymouth, Elm Street School of Walpole, Beckwith Middle School of Rehoboth, Global Learning Regional Charter School of New Bedford, Chapman Middle School of Weymouth, Dartmouth Middle School, Silver Lake Middle School of Kingston, Bird Middle School of Walpole and Bridgewater Middle School.
(Story by John Winters, G ’11, photos by Shawn Finn, ’13, University Advancement)