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Young inventors present gizmos, robots, Alien Brains

With imagination and improvisational engineering, first-graders create some memorable gadgets. Maybe you'd like to try one out.

A robotic dog who rolls through the house while we're at school or work and does all the cleaning is something we all can use.

When it's finished, turn it off and hang it in the closet.

The clean-all-over Rover was just one of the inventions created by first grade students at Lakeview Fundamental Elementary School, 2229 25th St. S recently.

"I drew the outline for him and my dad cut him out of wood," explained first-grader Alexis Corder. "I helped screw in his eyes and wrap foil around his knees to keep him from getting hurt."

Inventions are an annual project for the school's two first-grade classrooms. Students bring home an assignment to build just about anything their imaginations can create.

"It pulls the parent into their child's learning. I'm sure a lot of discussion went into the planning of these," said first grade teacher Darlene Jansen.

Jansen said as she watches the children present their projects, it helps her understand what she needs to work on with each student. Building an invention requires planning, presentation and naming the project. Most children designed something that will make everyday tasks easier.

Smelter, combining smell and filter, was created by Devon Arthur to "make the whole house smell good" by spraying the air conditioner filter with perfume.

Birds will flock to anyone wearing Raven Dakota's human bird feeder. The yellow sun-visor has two small bird houses dangling off its sides to welcome any feathered friend.

If drive-through restaurants cause messy eating in the car, Kelsey Al has the answer. Complete with a hole to place a cup, the Handy Dandy Drive-Through tray is weighted down with bean bags and guarantees a no-spill meal.

Popular every year is anything that can make wishes come true, as demonstrated by Michael Hankins' red square box. "Whenever you wish for something, it appears in the box," he said.

Leanne Mellish gets her wishes with her Alien Brain. The lime-green head of an alien sitting on top of a box alongside a walkie-talkie can manufacture any demand. Speaking into the walkie-talkie, she requested a dog. She reached under the box and pulled out a picture of her wish through the slot.

Short cuts in clean-up are another idea always at the top of the list of inventions. Jacob Hill designed the Aqua Clean, a wood and string contraption that catches litter as it floats by in the water. The Automatic Room Cleaner Upper designed by Jessica Shepherd hangs in a room like a wind chime but dangles a feather duster, broom, rag and scrub brush.

Caleb Garner makes cleaning up flood waters easier with his Super Sonic Flood Cleaner. The prototype, a cardboard box with cans for wheels, sucks up water through two cardboard tubes glued on the sides. Alex Lovallo took care of the problem of trash with his Garbage Band Robot.

"It picks up garbage and recycles it into instruments," he explained of the metal, plastic and polystyrene percussion instruments.

"We gave them three weeks to work on these, so they became aware of what long-term planning is," said first grade teacher Anne Stang.

Among her students' projects was a belt that held drinks to free hands for clapping during the Super Bowl game by MeiLin Tompkins; a sock drier based on the design of a carnival ride by Christopher Ingalls; a remote-controlled spoon by Taylor Hayes that picks up food; and a house with a pretty view by Sierra Holt, who designed the cardboard box because not everyone lives in a pretty house.

By speaking into a computer, the occupant can ask for flowers or rainbows, and the windows will change into the request.

The hands-on projects will lead into lessons on the use of simple machinery such as pulleys and inclined planes. By the second half of the year, the students will be focusing on putting their explanations into writing.

"This gets them aware of how things are put together," said Jansen, one of the teachers. "The hardest part for them is communicating the process to others. They're having so much fun with it they don't realize how much they're learning."