Ada Harris’ young inventors head to state competition

Lyla Hokanson, one of the Ada Harris School fifth grade inventors of “The Third Ear.” Lyla’s project with Lexi Jantz was inspired by a personal encounter with a deaf child.

The Cardiff School District recently announced that 10 students from Ada Harris School’s fifth grade class will be heading to San Jose to compete in the annual California Invention Convention on April 13.

The school’s entire fifth grade class was tasked with coming up with an invention that provides a solution to a real issue in their world. The students built prototypes and displays to present their inventions to parents and a panel of judges on March 26.

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Ada Harris School’s fifth graders Avery Anderson and Taylor Lenac are inventors of a stuffed animal that helps with nighttime insomnia, stress and anxiety. Courtesy

The judging panel selected the top 10 inventions and the students will travel to compete at the convention, hosted by electronics manufacturer Maxim Integrated, Inc. on its corporate campus in San Jose.

“All the students who participated in this challenging exercise, which included some patent research, were very motivated to do their best,” said teacher Kris Ensberg. “These invention prototypes were well thought out and very meaningful to them.”

The top 10 inventions include “Sleep Lightly,” a comforting stuffed animal designed to ease stress and aid sleep; an idea for a smart digital watch called “The Third Ear” designed to display American Sign Language (ASL) to help people communicate with deaf children; and “Phobia Fixer,” a unique digital app that aims to help people of all ages cope with various phobias.

Sleep Lightly inventors Avery Anderson and Taylor Lenac came up with the idea because both girls struggle with insomnia. Their stuffed toy integrates three different foams for squeezing, special beads for fidgeting, and a Bluetooth speaker to play soft music or white noise to help kids go to sleep.

“I’m looking forward to the whole adventure of Invention Convention, since I have only been on a plane twice in my life,” Taylor said.

Inventors of “The Third Ear,” Lyla Hokanson and Lexi Jantz, were inspired by a personal encounter with a deaf child.

“We were at the store getting ice cream for a sleepover when we saw a deaf little girl screaming while trying to communicate with her mom by sign language,” the girls recalled. “We wanted to help but we knew we couldn’t do anything.”

Phobia Fixer inventor Kia Bunyak sought to help the 10 percent of the U.S. population that suffers from some type of phobia, including fear of heights, fear of spiders and a fear of germs. In his research, he interviewed medical professionals to get their feedback on his idea which includes three levels or “docks” --- one to serve as an introduction to phobias, one that includes mental dominance and focus exercises, and one “Arachnophobia Animation” that illustrates ways to conquer fears.

The top picks from the California Invention Convention will qualify to compete in the STEMIE Coalition’s 4th Annual K-12 National Invention Convention and Entrepreneurship Expo on May 29-31 at the Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation in Dearborn, Michigan.