“Young inventors – The Earth needs your help!” began the challenge for the 2017 Global Invent It! competition.“On your own or with a team, submit your innovative solution to a real world environmental problem.”
Solutions to problems such as water scarcity, climate change, air pollution, water pollution, endangered species, invasive species and natural resource loss were suggested to participants.
Second-graders in Mary Ennis’ class at Red Mill Elementary School not only accepted the Invent It! Challenge, they were named global champions in the team competition for ages 5-7. Their invention, “The Gwater Bottle Gutter,” was selected as that age division’s winner by a panel of Smithsonian and ePals judges and announced April 17. Now, the public may vote for the Red Mill inventors to win the ePals Choice Award. Votes are cast online on the Invent It website and the winners will be announced May 1.
The Red Mill second-graders’ invention was part of a collaborative project that involved a rain barrel Red Mill fourth-graders were decorating for the school’s courtyard and garden area. The second-grade class was asked to determine a way to get water into the barrel. As a result of their research, they knew most rain barrels connect to a gutter system; however, Red Mill’s school roof is flat and does not have a gutter system.
Using what they had learned about scientific inquiry, the second-graders researched and brainstormed ideas for collecting water from the flat rooftop. The students designed a prototype using plastic water bottles, built it and tested their design. Their first attempt was unsuccessful so they reviewed their work, made adjustments to their design and created what they called “The Gwater Bottle Gutter.”
With help from School Plant staff, “The Gwater Bottle Gutter” was successfully installed in the school’s courtyard and the water collected in the rain barrel will be used to water plants in the school’s garden.
Throughout the process, students also discovered that the lack of fresh water is a global problem. They thought their new invention could be used in third world countries where structures with flat roofs are prevalent and where residents only receive fresh water in plastic bottles. Students surmised “The Gwater Bottle Gutter” could help solve two issues: How to recycle plastic bottles and collect fresh rainwater.
Their invention and its worldwide application earned acclaim from judges.
All participants in the Global Invent It! Challenge must demonstration their use of the seven steps of the Smithsonian’s Spark!Lab Invention Process: Think It, Explore It, Sketch It, Create It, Try It, Tweak It and Sell It.
“Win It” was step eight for “The Gwater Bottle Gutter” team, and the Red Mill students hope the public will vote online to make them winners again, this time of the ePals Choice Award. Cast your vote today!