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Kids’ Inventions Include Alarm Lunch Boxes and Newspaper Throwers

March 5, 1987

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) _ Rube Goldberg would have felt at home amid the newspaper throwers, alarm lunch boxes, cat gymnasiums, magnetic shoe holders and dripless ice cream cones.

These gadgets and others were entered by 56 first- through fifth-graders in their school’s first ″Invention Convention″ Tuesday and Wednesday.

″We thought it would be a neat change from the science fair,″ said Peachie Brown, the school librarian who helped organize the event at the Mark Twain Elementary School.

Michael Keener, a fourth-grader, invented the newspaper thrower - a 3-foot wooden contraption designed to fit into the front seat of a car or truck and fling newspapers out the window.

″I saw it on a Disney movie, but it was a different design,″ he said.

Tests indicate the device will throw a newspaper an average of 28 feet, he said.

Fourth-grader James Schmidt said on his entry form that the noise of drying his sneakers in a clothes dryer ″drives me nuts,″ so he invented magnetic shoe holders.

A tennis shoe is placed on a strip of cloth with a large magnet sewn inside. Velcro fasteners hold the shoe in place. The holder then can be attached to the inside of a dryer drum for silent running.

Jenny Dente, a third-grader, invented a small cat gymnasium featuring a carpet-covered post to discourage kittens from clawing furniture, a feather to distract them from attacking birds, a ball on a string to bat around and a piece of bath mat to rub against.

Goldberg, a cartoonist who was known for his drawings of wildly intricate machines that performed simple tasks, would have been proud of Nancy Hamilton. A deaf student, she invented a method of waking herself up in the morning by using an alarm clock and a lamp.

When the alarm goes off, the stem used to wind the clock begins turning, pulling a string, which is attached to a light switch. When the string is taut, the switch goes on, lighting the lamp.

″Before I made this invention my mom had to wake me up every morning,″ she said, with the help of an interpreter. ″I wanted to be able to wake up myself.″

Three alarm lunch boxes appeared at the convention, even though Mrs. Brown said lunch box theft is not a problem at the school.

Joseph Olmi’s version plays ″Dance, Ballerina, Dance,″ when opened. Jeremy Armstrong’s high-tech pail includes a keyboard to punch in a secret code that turns the alarm off.

Hayley Mann made a battery-powered alarm lunch box.

″I think it’s one of the best inventions yet,″ said a sign that was part of her exhibit. ″I think the world could use it. That’s why I invented it.″

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