An invention by two CPS 3rd-graders could forever change the way we butter our bread.
Called The Butter Stick, this simple contraption was the top winner at this year’s CPS Invention Convention – an opportunity for students in grades 3-8 to show off their innovation and creativity while competing for scholarships and entrepreneurial opportunities.
Designed by Autumn DeBonnett and Ariel McGee, both 3rd-graders at Skinner West,The Butter Stick allows butter to be rolled out smoothly, avoiding any tearing of the bread.
“I think it could change the world,” said Autumn, “because it helps people do something that’s part of their everyday lives.”
In accordance with contest rules, the girls began their invention process several months ago by identifying a simple problem they thought they could solve.
“I eat toast with butter every day, but sometimes when I spread the butter the toast breaks and I get agitated,” said Ariel. “I thought a lot of other people might have that problem too.”
The solution came in the form of a recycled glue stick. The girls started by removing the excess glue, cleaning it, and filling the glue stick with butter. They chilled it overnight to create a mold, then twisted the bottom and rolled the butter smoothly onto bread.
The simple yet effective creation earned Autum and Ariel a $500 scholarship and a prototyping and mentoring opportunity with Imagine-It-Tech, one of the event’s key sponsors.
“I’m so proud of them for their amazing creativity,” said Skinner teacher Kori Milroy, who also guided last year’s Invention Convention winner into first place. “They thought of something that is very simple, but that really solves a problem they’d experienced in their lives, which is the whole idea of this exercise.”
Held at Crane Technical Prep High School, the Invention Convention inspires students to come up with original, problem-solving ideas and see them through to fruition.
“It gives kids a chance to develop an idea all their own in a creative, encouraging environment,” said Anneliewse Gegenheimer, Program Coordinator for the Invention Convention. “They’re responsible for developing and communicating that idea with our judges, which builds their confidence, as well as their presentation and communication skills.”
The judges were volunteer executives from IBM, the event’s main sponsor, as well as other corporations and STEM-related businesses throughout the city. In addition to supporting each other’s work, the students competed for over $4,000 in scholarships and prizes and participated in Imagination Station activities meant to further inspire their creativity.