TAMPA — Ten young inventors sat patiently outside of the lecture hall waiting to face the judges Wednesday at the Museum of Science and Industry.
Each dreamed of winning the $1,000 first prize for the Innovation Express Youth Inventors Contest.
As they were called in, the children were greeted by the contest's 10-year-old creator Anna Hopen, who was all smiles.
Hayden Duncan, 6, of Westchase, hoped to use the prize money to buy his own Bakugon, a marble sized transforming toy. "It's circles, and sometimes it's squares," he beamed, already playing in his head.
He seemed a bit shy as he presented his idea for vibrating shoes. He invented it "because sometimes people's feet fall asleep," he said quietly.
His sister, Hannah, was also in the top 10. She reached into her little pink fanny pack and showed the judges her insulin pump for her juvenile diabetes, and the soft-spoken third-grader from Westchase Elementary told them about her idea of adding another tube for glucose.
Some nights she has to wake up to drink juice because her blood sugar is low. If the pump included glucose, it would make it easier for her to manage her condition, she said.
Others were not so shy.
Isabella Fraraccio, 9, invented the standardized test pencil, a refillable pencil with lead the same size as test circles.
"When you do it with regular No. 2 pencils you have keep going and going and going and if you mess up or go outside it can be hard to erase," she said.
She proposed pencils filled with liquid lead or graphite that can stamp circles. She demonstrated with a bingo marker.
"This isn't the real thing," The Foundation Christian Academy student stressed. "I don't know how to make liquid lead or graphite yet."
And useful ideas kept coming.
Alex Maldonado showed off his cell phone accessory. For dramatic effect, the 11-year-old homeschool student raised the phone to his ear and then let it slip. But instead of falling onto the carpet, a zip line reeled it back to a belt clip.
After the presentations, the children gathered with their families and headed for the door. They'll find out who gets the grand prize on March 28.
Until then, Tyler Dunn, 10, will be sweating it out. "When I saw the other inventions — I'll be honest — I thought, 'I'm going to lose,' " said the Bryant Elementary fifth-grader.
But he resolved that even he doesn't win, he will perfect his invention of edible tape to keep tacos closed. "I've got to make more flavors (than cheese) so it can go with other stuff," he said.