Saratoga County

Shen students’ inventions to be part of annual Winterfest

About 400 elementary- and middle-school students taking part in the Shenendehowa Inventors program w

As two teenage girls envision it, the Sandwich Servant would stock bread, meats, cheeses and condiments in compartments and with the push of a button plop them on a tray in the correct order to create a delicious lunch.

Until that happens, Tomisin Akinyemi will get up and make school lunches for her and her three siblings.

“I have to make all the sandwiches,” said Akinyemi, 14, an eighth-grade student at Acadia Middle School.

That was one of the reasons she and Kristen Cregin, 14, invented the automated sandwich maker, mapping out on poster board how it would work.

“School cafeterias can also use this to speed up school lunch lines,” Cregin said.

You won’t find the Sandwich Servant on store shelves. But it and other ideas for creative inventions by Shenendehowa Central School District students will be displayed at Clifton Park Center on Saturday during Clifton Park’s Winterfest, a daylong activity that includes the Clifton Park Idol talent contest, as well as a soup-tasting competition and outdoor activities.

About 400 elementary- and middle-school students taking part in the Shenendehowa Inventors program will display their inventions at the former Cotton Market store at the mall from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Shenendehowa Inventors is offered by the Shenendehowa Council PTA. The College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering at the University at Albany sponsors it, as well as Knolls Atomic Power Laboratory, Hudson Valley Community College and a number of local businesses.

Laura Picardi, a science teacher at Acadia Middle School, said inventing is good practice for students to use the scientific process to come up with solutions to problems they see.

While they were developing their projects, students enjoyed a visit from John Bowler, host of National Geographic’s Mad Scientist TV program. Bowler will pick a project to receive the National Geographic Mad Scientist Award.

“Your first ideas don’t always solve the problem, so you kind of have to think through and make the change,” Picardi said.

Some of the inventions solve practical, everyday problems, such as a cotton swab dispenser envisioned by seventh-grader James Mundinger that allows people to control how many swabs they want to remove without reaching in with dirty hands and touching them all.

“I was just thinking about it once, and this would be a good invention to make,” Mundinger said.

Other inventions solve more global problems.

Gregory Lovelock, 13, wants to save lives with his Hydraulics Engaged Earthquake Frame, a system he believes could allow buildings to better absorb earthquake shock using hydraulics and ballistics gel.

“The pistons allow it to shift a little bit but not allow too much shift to allow it to be destroyed,” said Lovelock, who came up with his invention with Jacob Paschall, 14.

“I’m hoping someone would want to test this out, because I think it could potentially save lives,” he said. “I think it would be nice to test this.”

Ian Seerung, 13, and Drishti Desai, 12, came up with a plan to build a 10- by 10-mile agricultural and living colony on the moon, calling it Mizuki Dome because the word means “beautiful moon” in Japanese.

On paper at least, they solved several problems related to lunar life, putting photovoltaic solar panels on the dome’s outside, using a special cloth to deflect ultraviolet radiation and transporting oxygen and nitrogen from Earth.

The solar energy would be used to heat the dome at night and cool it during the day. Without an atmosphere, the moon gets very hot during the day and very cold at night.

“Glass doesn’t filter UV like ozone does, so you need that constant protection,” Seerung said.

Maddie Miller and Haley Birken, both 12, wanted to make drug tests faster and less invasive with a gel that could be rubbed in the mouth and would turn a certain color if the person had been doing drugs.

“It just makes it more accurate to know right then and there,” Birken said.

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