WALLINGFORD — Two local elementary school students have their homemade gadgets entered in the national Invention Convention.
JC Dellaselva, a fourth-grader at Pond Hill School, created the Sani-Stall, a hands-free bathroom stall door.
Rock Hill School fifth-grader Kale Seniff created Warning Waves, a shirt designed to prevent drowning. It beeps and sends an alert to a cell phone when submerged in water.
“It’s great that we’re recognizing these two students because they're incredible, but we had 100 incredible inventions this year and we’re always so blown away by the ingenuity,” said Jacqueline Valentine, who oversees the school system’s contest.
In a video presentation for the state tournament, Seniff said he created Warning Waves by installing a water-detecting sensor inside a swim shirt.
“Unfortunately, each year 350 children under the age of 5 die due to drowning. That’s almost one per day. Warning Waves could help this problem,” Seniff said in the video. “Now imagine you're at a pool or a beach, take your eye off your child for just a split second. They submerge under water and the Warning Waves sensor detects the water and sends a notification to the parent’s mobile device.”
Before starting on a project, students create a logbook of problems and potential solutions. Students receive help on the presentation at school and do the research, design and construction at home.
The virtual national convention and awards ceremony will be held in late June.
While using a restaurant restroom, Dellaselva spotted the problem he wanted to solve when he tried to find a way to avoid touching the bathroom stall door with his hands. The Sani-Stall uses a foot pedal to unlock the door rather than the traditional bolt lock.
Dellaselva’s father, Chris Dellaselva, said his son came up with the idea and designed the prototype prior to the coronavirus outbreak.
“His idea probably seems a lot more relevant than even before,” he said.
Participating in the local convention on March 21 was the most exciting part of the experience thus far, JC Dellaselva said. He already has some ideas for next year’s competition.
“It turns a kid into an inventor,” his father said. “It's how he thinks now, he's constantly looking for a way to make everything better or easier ... it changes the way a kid thinks.”