First-grader Maggie Huerta has seen too many friends dealing
with the yuckiness of lice. So when it came time to invent
something for this year's Toshiba/National Science Teachers
Association ExploraVision program, she
and two fellow students at Kingsley Elementary School in Evanston
decided to focus on ridding kids of those nasty bugs.
Along with fellow first-graders Mackenzie Greco and Nina Kaiser,
the three drew a design for the Lice-A-Nator, a futuristic
rendering of a computerized hairbrush that uses special bristles
and processors that not only detect the presence of the creepy
crawlers, but also kills them with tiny on-board lasers.
For their efforts, the three were winners in the competition
that featured more than 5,000 entries from Midwest and Canadian
And, while their invention won't really be created, that hasn't
stopped the young inventors from thinking up more ideas for the
future. Maggie would like to design "a tennis racquet that could
hold extra balls in the handle. The balls would be special and
collapse," she says. Although she also admits she doesn't really
want to be an inventor, she wants to be a singer.
Nina has an idea for "a jet pack, because then I could fly and
it sounds fun to fly with just something on your back."
The whole point of the project isn't necessarily to create
inventors, but to teach kids to use their imagination and work as a
"I've been doing ExploraVision with students through the years
because I think this kind of project-based learning is great for
children," says Coach Karen Reid. "It teaches teamwork, science,
innovation and creativity. We need children to think how to solve
problems and make life better through science."
Liz DeCarlo is the former senior editor at Chicago Parent.
See more of Liz's stories here.
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