Perry Hill students advance in math, invention competitions

Perry Hill students Demetri Franzese, Zain Irfan, Matthew Boivin, William Dwyer, Laura Uhrynowski, and Luke Sanborn all participated in either Math Con or the 2018 Invention Convention. — Aaron Berkowitz photo

A group of Perry Hill fifth and sixth graders recently participated and excelled in both math and invention competitions.

Several of the students are preparing to head to the next level in one or the other competition. The other students who participated have reflected on their experience and said they’re motivated to participate again next year.

Tina Henckel, the assistant director of STEM/data management, said the city’s education system is based on helping students grow.

“As a district, we are always seeking out opportunities that are engaging and promote a student’s growth. Math Con and Invention Convention are two opportunities for students to challenge themselves,” said Henckel.

Invention Convention

The students who participated in the Invention Convention were allowed to choose whatever they wanted to invent, according to sixth grader Luke Sanborn. Luke invented “Base X,” which is designed to keep cups from being knocked over. He explained that his invention works by lowering the cup’s center of gravity and by adding weight to the cup, making it more difficult to spill liquid on important items.  

Luke’s invention won the Patenting Award, and he is headed to the national level of competition, which will take place in May in Michigan.

“The next level of competition will consist of more judging and should be a great learning experience,” said Luke.

In his free time, Luke said, he loves inventing things and working with robotics. Between now and the time he appears at the Nationals at the end of May, he plans to create a variety of different color and size prototypes. He also has to create a one-minute presentation video for judges to help “sell” his idea.

Laura Uhrynowski was also invited to participate in the national level of competition for her invention, the “Magic Mark.” Laura said she thought of her invention two years ago and designed it to keep from losing her place in books she was reading.

“I used magnets to hold the bookmark down in place so that way you can always know where you left off rather than when you put a bookmark in and it falls out, causing you to sometimes have to reread things or lose your place,” Laura said.

Invention Convention participant and Perry Hill sixth grader Will Dwyer said that after the students chose their invention, they received a packet on how to create the prototype. He added that the students are also tasked with keeping their prototypes under the cost of $50.

Will invented what’s called the “Dwyer Dryer,” which is composed of a pair of tongs and two microfiber cloths attached to the ends designed to help dry things that may be hard to dry otherwise, such as vases.

“Through this competition I learned that just because it didn’t work, it doesn’t mean that it won’t work,” said Will. “It’s fun to think of a problem, draw up a design, see if it will work, look at what can be improved, and then change it. Processes that seem strange when you’re going through it were actually fun when you look back at it. For a while I felt bad that I didn’t get an award or anything, but then I heard a speech that reminded me that 17,000 competed, and were some of the 819 students that moved on to the competition at UConn.”

Sixth grader Matthew Boivin created the “Magna-Ball.” Matthew said his invention is composed of two gloves, one for each hand, that help improve one’s ability to catch a ball. The invention works by magnetizing the ball by rubbing it with one of the gloves and attaching a magnet to the other glove.

“This invention is for people who don’t catch very well, have dexterity problems, and or may have recently suffered a stroke,” said Matthew, explaining that the trials for his experiment took three months.

Shelton sixth grader Demetri Franzese invented “The Bread Steamer” in order to create a crunchier crust on his bread while maintaining a more moist core. Demetri said he got the idea from his cousin’s pizza restaurant and he especially enjoyed the project because he had to eat a lot during testing. He explained that unfortunately his cousin won’t be able to use it at his restaurant because he has a stone oven.

The participating students from Perry Hill said they’ve already begun to think of the inventions they will create for next year’s competition.

Math Con

Math Con is a timed mathematics test composed of multiple choice and logic open-ended questions.

Perry Hill teacher Angela Catone said this was her students’ first time taking a timed test.

The students all said they had different methods of preparing for and taking the test. Some felt it was easiest to review the entire test before beginning and answer the easy questions first. Others felt practice tests were the difference maker.

Zain Irfan, a fifth grader at Perry Hill, is headed to the next level of competition but said he didn’t have much time to prepare for Math Con because of being out of school sick. He said he surprised himself when he heard that he had earned one of the highest scores in the school. Zain is ranked 21 in the region.

Will Dwyer will be accompanying Zain at the next level of competition, but will compete at the sixth grade level.

The next level of competition is May 5.

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