In a school year where learning was anything but normal, Menlo Park Academy’s students had no choice but to take on the responsibility of doing some extracurricular projects under their own discipline. The 2021 Ohio Invention Convention was one of those projects.
The Invention Convention is a worldwide program that the children at Menlo can choose to start when in 4th grade. In the program, students must create an invention that is new and unique to them. Plus, the invention should solve an issue or inconvenience they identify in their daily lives.
Teacher Ashley O’Malley begins to lead the children each January. Students start their projects by brainstorming and researching to make sure any invention they want to make is not already patented. They meet for 50 minutes each day, usually in person but virtually this past year, and worked on journals documenting their progress, tri-folds, and prototypes, that Ms. O’Malley submits at the end of February for judging.
Ms. O’Malley designed all the Invention Convention materials over her winter break this past year, as the program was not yet adapted to be virtual. She put in that hard work behind the scenes as she believes the program to be an incredible opportunity for Menlo students.
“Most of the teaching at Menlo is based on project-based learning and to think outside of the box to find their own solution,” she explains. Continuing, she adds, “Invention Convention is perfect for Menlo students because it molds into the kids’ interests and they can take it from there. I work as a guide and the kids get to take responsibility for their ideas and mix in creativity.”
Despite the virtual twist, the kids and parents reciprocated Ms. O’Malley’s excitement for the program and dedicated themselves to the process. In the end, their hard work paid off because Menlo Park Academy had 21 students advance to the state convention!
At this year’s state convention, Menlo students continued to deliver. Juliana Sacco won 1st place for fourth grade for her invention of “Book Buddiez.” Sourya Adavi won the Home Technology award K-5 for “Don’t Come in 5000.” The Education Award K-5 went to Lillian Rokas for “The Paint Blender,” and Honorable Mentions went to Kason Kopkas (“The Car Doorstop 2000”) and Caleb Stephens (“Dogs Do It Feeder”).
“I am so proud of them,” Ms. O’Malley emphasizes, “and I know that from this they learned that with the power of perseverance and problem-solving, they are capable of whatever they set their mind to.”
Congratulations to all the Menlo Park Academy students for their hard work and great ideas for this last convention. If you feel the Invention Convention would be a great fit for your child, be on the lookout for more information this upcoming year.