PORTSMOUTH — It’s a common problem many pet owners have: It’s a cold day and you need to take your dog for a walk, but you don’t want Fido from slipping and sliding on patches of ice.
Don’t worry. Zach Pierce has just the thing for you.
The Portsmouth Middle School sixth-grader recently invented Paw Claws, which allows dogs to walk on ice without being in danger of any slip-and-falls.
“They are meant for dogs who don’t have natural ice traction on their feet,” Zach explained. “All you do is slip these boots on and the dog will be safe from falling on ice or any other slippery surfaces. Humans have ice traction boots; why can’t dogs?”
Zach was just one of many sixth-grade students who put their thinking caps on for the school’s annual Invention Convention last week. In two full cafeterias, they put their innovative projects — most of which were designed to solve everyday problems — on display for teachers and family members.
Because he gets so hot when playing baseball, Daniel Janssen invented the Cool Cap. “It’s a hat that has a pocket inside with an instant ice pack,” said Daniel. “So when you shake it up or hit it, it becomes cold. When you put it back it put the cap on, it keeps your head cooler. I play baseball and it gets hot.”
Jacob Schatmeyer built the Biscuit Shoot, a vending machine-like contraption that spits out a dog biscuit whenever a pet pulls on a rubber ball.
“It’s for my dog so he doesn’t have to wait for a biscuit, and for me so I don’t have to stop what I’m doing because it’s sometimes annoying,” said Jacob. “Every morning you just have to reset it and put a biscuit in and whenever the dog gets hungry, he pulls it with his mouth and it will come out the bottom.”
His dog, Eli, hasn’t used it yet. “We’re probably going to have to train him to do it.”
Kyle Baldwin didn’t like the fact that his family wastes water bottles, so he came up with the Cap Coder.
“Families drink half a water bottle and they leave it sitting around and it gets wasted and it’s wasting money,” he said. “This hangs on a wall and you open the flap, and it prints a color on the cap of a water bottle so you can tell whose is specific to a certain person.”
Making cleanup easier
Several students came up with ideas to make cleaning easier. Savannah Domingues’ Handy Sweeper comes with several attachments that contain other cleaning supplies, such as a scrub brush, dusters, Wet Wipes, trash bags and more.
“My mom spends a lot of time cleaning, so I wanted to help her,” said Savannah.
Michael McCaskill invented The Swoof, in which he took part of a mop and attached it to the soles of a sneaker. It even has a mechanism for squirting water onto the mop.
“You can just slip on the shoe and it helps clean the floors,” said Michael.
Chloe Andres’ invention also involved a shoe attachment, but it was for cleaning something else up. “You attach it to your shoe and as you walk, you shovel up snow,” said Chloe, who’s had plenty of opportunities to test her Shovel Shoe out. It works just fine, she said.
Ladies: Can’t decide whether to wear heels or flats? With Sydney Crotteau’s invention, you can have both in one shoe.
“It’s the Convertible Heel,” she said. “It goes from a heel, into a flat, into a heel again. I’ve noticed that teens and adults have heel problems because they have to get scissors and it’s annoying. If you have that problem and you want to change it into a flat, you can.”
Tom Brady or any other NFL quarterback might want to inquire about Jake Ferreira’s Pigskin Protector, in which Spandex is wrapped around a football to ensure a better grip in wet conditions.
“It protects the football from getting wet in the rain. Sometimes it gets slippery and you can’t catch it,” said Jake.
Benjamin Chase’s invention doesn’t protect a football, but an iPod. His iPod Protector is made of wood, plastic, mesh and foam padding. “You can put your iPod and speakers into a box and it protects them from damage,” he said.
Power outage? No problem
Those Portsmouth residents who experienced a power outrage last week could have used Luke Ferreira’s F-Lamp. “It acts like a lamp but it runs on a flashlight so you don’t have to plug it in. You can use it on power outages so you don’t have to get all the candles together,” said Luke.
Victoria Wooten borrowed her 5-year-old brother John’s sneaker to demonstrate her Always Visible Sneakers. “It lights up in the front and the back. Whenever the power goes out, or you’re running or playing at night and you can’t see, you turn on your shoes,” said Victoria.
James Gosset had a similar invention with his Bright Boots. “They’re shoes with lights built into them so you can see in the dark without holding a flashlight,” he said.
Matthew Holmes’ Mr. Winter Warmer is like a coat rack, except it has a rubber mat underneath to catch any water fro dripping clothes. “It provides a place for all your wet snow gear, after you’ve been out shoveling,” he said.
Anthony Piacenti’s invention was aimed at helping restless sleepers get a little shut-eye.
“I have the All-in-One Pillow that keeps your eyes warm with an eye mask and a hand-warmer inside, and then a pillow with an icepack and you have side pockets to keep tissues, phones or anything else you might need so you don’t have to get up,” said Anthony.
Wait, an icepack for a pillow?
“The reason I put the icepack inside is so you don’t have to constantly flip the pillow back and forth. You don’t have to get up, you can stay cool.”
Travel a lot? Then you’ll be interested in Molly Heitnann’s Collapsible Chair. “It’s a chair that collapses and it has wheels so you can move it anywhere,” she said. “Once you collapse it, it can fit almost anywhere you go.”
Hope White invented a solar-powered machine that harnesses the sun’s energy to actually cook things — like a chocolate chip cookie.
“It was nice and gooey on the inside. It was actually really good,” said Hope.
Jack Carver’s Dog Cam uses a GoPro cam to keep tabs on what your pet is up to when you’re not around.
“When you’re away, it will film everything your dog is doing,” said Jack. “There’s a remote and you can turn it on and off. When you come you can review the footage and see if they were doing anything bad while you were away, so you can make the necessary changes to prevent your dog from doing that again.
Jack added that his dog, Abbey, hasn’t been caught misbehaving — yet.
If you have a busy lifestyle, Sophia Wallace’s Sweet Holders are just for you. They’re containers attached by adhesive velcro to a beverage cozy.
“It can be put together for on-the-go-snacking,” said Sophia, adding that her invention will benefit teachers and business people who are on their way to work with a coffee and a breakfast snack, or young people heading to a sporting event or other activity.
Hannah Baronian’s Run and Go makes things easier for people trying to keep in shape. “It holds money and your keys and your water bottle in it, so you can take it for a run,” she said.
Autumn Pearce invented the String Star 500, which makes it easier to dispense string without knots when used for various projects.
“I do some knitting and I also make bracelets out of string,” said Autumn.
(The “500” has no significance; Autumn just liked the way it sounded.)
Kayla Rosenberg came up with a speaker case for smart phones. “It’s so you don’t have to go off and get a speaker. You just plug your phone in,” she said.
Logan Pitt’s Hair-Be-Gone is a brush with a removable piece of fabric that makes cleaning a snap.
“When you brush your hair, your hair gets stuck in the bristles of the brush,” said Logan. “With this, you just take out the fabric and wipe it off and put it back in to re-use it.”
Walking the chicken
Ben Farrea keeps seven chickens in his backyard coop, but says they’ve been doing a poor job of staying in shape. With his Chicken Harness, however, he can take them on walks to burn those extra calories.
“It’s used to exercise my chickens because they’re fat,” said Ben, who wanted to demonstrate his invention on a real bird, but teachers put the kibosh on him bringing one to school.