SHIRLEY — “I think enabling the students to do hands-on projects helps to solidify concepts for them,” said Shelley Guarino, a fifth-grade science teacher at Shirley Middle School.
One large-scale opportunity her students have is the Invention Convention.
“Every year we do a unit on simple machines,” she said. “We learn about six machines: the lever, screw, inclined plane, wheel and axel, wedge and pulley,” Guarino said.
After learning about how these machines have been used in many modern inventions, the fifth-graders research inventors. They also learn about force, distance, friction and gravity.
For the convention, students are required to create an invention that will help make a job easier. In April, they came up with rough drafts of their designs, then built contraptions at home for the Invention Convention held April 30.
Parents and community members were invited to view all the inventions on this day. They were also asked to vote on their favorites.
Danielle Bennett made a “Topping Topper” that allows you to put ketchup and mustard on a hotdog without getting it on your hands.
“I picked this because I hate when my hands get all gross putting stuff on my hotdog,” she said.
Daniel Henderson’s “The Arm’s Full Door Opener” solved a problem he has had for years.
“I always have to put all my stuff down so I can open the front door,” he said. “My invention makes it so you can push down a lever with your elbow or foot, and it turns the doorknob and opens the door.”
This invention could be helpful for handicapped people as well, he said.
Brandon Snow’s dad likes to cook, but he can never find the utensils he is looking for. He decided to create the “Ultimate Chef” to help his culinary parent. This “hat” has a revolving top with common kitchen utensils hanging from it.
Olivia Warila was also trying to help out at home. She masterminded the “Laundry Shoot Express,” which consists of a series of large tubes that allow you to throw laundry to the basement without having to carry it down the stairs.
“We have seven people in my family, and we have a lot of laundry, so this would be really good at my house,” she said.
First-, second- and third-place winners were picked in each of the homerooms.
In Mr. Churchill’s homeroom, first place went to Henderson for “The Arms Full Door Opener.” Second place went to Sydney Esielionis for “The Childproof Chopper.” Third place went to Jaclyn Adams for “The Extracter.”
In Guarino’s class, first place went to Brittany Moungvong for the “Easy Peesy Feeder.” Second place went to Warila for “The Laundry Shoot Express.” Third place went to Zachary Winslow for “The Seed Spacer Set.”
Finally, in Mrs. Konopaske’s class, first place went to Nicole Nelson for the “Wheel Stair 2000.” Second place went to Erin Whooley for the “B and B Dog Feeder.” Third went to Jakob Vandal for “The Automatic Stepper 3000.”
“I am really proud of the kids and of all the work they put into this project,” said Guarino. “It’s a really fun and worthwhile hands-on project to do toward the end of the school year.”