Monday's Invention Convention at Central School highlighted not only the thousands of uses of Velcro, but also some great, common-sense ideas.
Take, for example, concerns about mail privacy. Homeowners have little protection of their mail after it's delivered, but if someone chose to install Justin Uberoi's handy vacuum-powered mail retrieving system, delivered mail would be safely sucked into the home.
He adopted the idea from drive-up bank systems and noted the invention could also be adapted for use by households with disabled residents, unable to get to the mailbox.
Such practical solutions to everyday problems was typical of the convention's inventions. Many students devised innovative ways to keep warm, or store items.
The students' projects included them to devise not only a working sample of their inventions, but also a storyboard explanation of how they developed their ideas, and a sales pitch to deliver their messages.
Central School's Mary Beth LeBlond said the students were judged based on the use of creativity, marketability, presentation—and the usefulness of their inventions.
Which was likely the most difficult criteria to judge: the students based their inventions on their own experiences and needs. Kristen Hamilton created her "Freeze Free" portable game chair with a pocket for a blanket after getting chilled at a sister's softball game; Jacob Amalraj created a no-spill cap for milk jugs (especially those purchased at Costco) prone to spilling; and Karma Quinones solved her problem of cold feet with "Toasty Toes."
"My feet are always cold in the morning," she said. So she took a pair of slightly oversized slippers and added a pocket inside (with a Velcro closure) that holds a small bag of uncooked rice. Microwaving the rice and placing it inside the slippers assures her of "Toasty Toes." "It stays warm for an hour to an hour-and-a half. My mom's like, 'Oh my gosh, I would buy this.'"
Dante Lopez made a Velcro belt capable of holding all the supplies a busy guy might need: "You've got tissues for allergy season, you got Post-Its...and I have spare erasers here," he said, demonstrating the belt's uses.
The school has been holding the Invention Convention for the last three years—so far none of the students' ideas have shown up on the late night TV ads but it seems that's only a matter of time.