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LaBrae students among top innovators in the state

LEAVITTSBURG — Makayla Scruggs had candle safety on her mind when she set out to design her “Kareful Kandle” product for a class project last year.

Makayla, a LaBrae eighth-grader, didn’t expect to be named among the Top 8 students in her region with one of the best designs, or to earn an honorable mention on the state level of the 2020-21 Worldwide Invention Convention education program for students in grades K-12.

“It was a surprise. I just wanted to come up with a concept to make using candles safer,” she explained. “But this does really make you think about a problem or a need someone might have and how to come up with a solution. And the key is whatever the problem, keep trying to solve it until you do.”

Originally, 13 of Debbie Morgan’s students submitted prototypes, journals, display boards and presentations to the northeast Ohio regional portion of the competition.

Several of those students advanced to the 28th Ohio Invention Convention. They were the only Trumbull County students named NE Ohio Invention Convention finalists.

LaBrae’s Liam Fiest, also an eighth-grader, also received an honorable Mention.

“The concepts the students came up with were amazingly creative and unique,” explained Morgan, Gifted ELA Teacher at LaBrae Intermediate and Middle schools. “They based them on problems they perceive and ways to address those problems.”

For example, one student designed a tool to stack books on a bookshelf for individuals who have back issues or cannot reach upper level shelves. Another created a cover to protect trees from being struck by lightning.

Liam’s “Butter Broiler” addresses the challenges of buttering toast, basically, without making a mess or “messing up the toast,” he explained. One student’s prototype illustrates how to use an external thermometer-like device to determine an individual’s allergies.

Invention Convention is designed to teach students problem identification, problem solving, entrepreneurship and creativity skills, and to build confidence in invention, innovation and entrepreneurship. Invention Convention programs happen at the school, local, regional and national levels in the United States and a growing number of countries worldwide, according to news release from the LaBrae district.

Ohio finalists were announced last month during a virtual ceremony.

This year’s event took place virtually, via video submission. After students identified a problem, they used the design cycle to research and develop a prototype. They then pitched solutions to over 140 industry professionals. Their innovations solved problems from multiple categories, including health and medical, safety, pet care and household improvements.

The annual competition is backed by major technology sponsors, including the State Finals Title Partner, Honda.

More than $21,000 in CollegeAdvantage Ohio’s 529 Plan Savings Awards, from Ohio Tuition Trust Authority, were awarded.

LaBrae’s NE Ohio Region Finalists for the 2020-21 school year are:

• 7th grade (now in grade 8)

Liam Fiest and Makayla Scruggs, Honorable Mention; and Ryan Simunich

• 5th grade (now in grade 6)

Audra VanDyke

• 4th grade (now in grade 5)

Emma Goldbach

• 3rd grade (now in grade 4)

Nina Armeni

Johnny Bustard

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