By Megan Alley
Third through fifth grade students in Bethel-Tate Local School District’s science, technology, engineering and math program recently presented inventions they made using a 3D printer.
Hill Intermediate School‘s 3D Invention Showcase was held the evening of Jan. 25 in the school cafeteria, located at 150 Fossyl Drive.
The event was the culmination of months of hard work, according to Kari Mays, who teaches students in the district’s program.
All school year long, students have been learning about product development, the engineering and design process, and the workings of the computer aided design and drafting software called Tinkercad, to bring their inventions to life, Mays said.
“The next step in this challenging project was to 3D print what they created,” she added in an email.
During the event, students presented their designs to community members and potential investors.
The presentations included elevator pitches, posters and project boards and the original inventions and prototypes, all designed by students ranging in age from eight to 11 years old.
“We had a great turn out for the event,” Mays said in an email. “The students impressed their audience with their abilities to deliver their elevator pitches, with their explanations of the processes they used to develop their inventions and with how they handled answering questions presented by those in attendance.”
She added, “I was so excited to watch all of their hard work in action that evening! There is not a doubt in my mind that these students have accomplished something they will never forget through this project and I hope they are as proud of themselves as I am of them.”
Fifth-grader Brady Sterbling showed off her invention called “The Insta-Heel,” which allows the wearer to transform flat shoes into high-heeled shoes, and back again, thanks to a heel stem that slides in and out of place.
“I thought of The Insta-Heel last year, when my sister was complaining in the car about her feet hurting after wearing high-heeled shoes,” Sterbling said during her elevator pitch.
She said that the thing she learned most from the invention process was to persevere.
“I had some trouble making this part,” Sterbling said while pointing to the stem. “My mom sort of helped me to develop the right shape, and then my dad helped me come up with the dovetail,” she added as she showed the attaching end of the removable stem.
“My sister says she really likes this idea because you can sort of have a more formal shoe, and then when you’re going to school or something, you can just have the flat option,” Sterbling said.
Fellow fifth-grader Lily Hathcock presented her invention called the “Stay n’ Spray.” The product features a brush with an attached holster for a can of hair spray, allowing the user to style and spray their tresses at the same time.
“My invention is ideal for moms and dancers always on the go,” she explained during her elevator pitch.
Hathcock said that working on the project taught her to “never give up, because even when times are frustrating, you have to get through them if you want to have a good invention or a good project.”
She said that creating the product was her favorite part of the process.
“It was really fun to put my project together,” she added.
Hathcock said she’ll continue to use her product, and that creating it has sparked “a lot” of her interest in engineering.
Mays described the importance of school projects like the Invention Showcase.
“[They] develop students’ 21st century skills of critical and creative thinking as well as offer opportunities for collaboration and communication,” she said in an email. “Students experienced new levels of challenge as they learned about the engineering design process from beginning to end with authentic and relevant problem solving strategies that resulted in original inventions.”
She added, “This project presented a great level of rigor. It produced countless opportunities for students to practice and maintain their growth mindset … we want our students to know that learning doesn’t come from perfection but rather true learning and growth comes from their ability to adjust to the challenges before them in everything they set out to achieve.”