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FMS students take on technology challenge

“American Inventor,” the TV show featuring inventions by the average Joe, has been a recent hit, but Tennessee middle and high school students don’t have to wait for a TFarragut Middle School teacher Lane Garner took a group of sixth-, seventh- and eighth-grade technology students to the 28th annual Tennessee Technology Student Association State Conference in Chattanooga, April 2-5. Middle and high school students could enter more than 50 different events, including Construction Challenge, Mechanical Challenge, Video Challenge, Dragster Design, Imaging Technology, Promotional Graphics and Robotics.V invitation. They just had an invention show of their own.

The students who participated in some of more than 50 contests were Ashley Derrick, seventh-grader, Allison Derthick, eighth-grader, Davis Hayes, sixth-grader, Lindsay Lovell, seventh-grader, Chris Rubens, eighth-grader and Eric Summitt, sixth-grader. Summitt took second place in an event and Derthick and Rubens came in fourth place in a team challenge.

Summitt invented the “Definary,” a computer program that helps find the word you want — kind of the reverse of a dictionary — that would be particularly helpful to people learning English.

Summitt placed second in the state with that invention, and according to Garner, the judges encouraged him and his parents to have the invention patented.

“I created a Microsoft PowerPoint presentation prototype of a reverse dictionary,” Summitt said. “I’m going to get a patent on it … you try to think of a word. If you know what ‘mother’ means, but you don’t know the word for it, it will help you find the word. I’m eventually going to put it on the Internet and make downloads to put it on Ipods and palms — handhelds. With Ipods, they [students] can listen to music before and after school and during school they can use it to find a word they need.”

Summitt said he plans to add picture of words and a pronunciation recording to his computer program.

Derthick and Rubens worked together in a problem-solving event. Each team was given the goal of creating a bungee cord for an egg using eight rubber bands, a paper clip, an egg and a plastic baggie.

“We did it as a team,” said Derthick. “We had half an hour. We basically tested the rubber bands to go as low as they could.”

“We had three tries to get as close to the ground as possible,” said Rubens. “You could not break the rubber bands. We put our egg inside the baggie and attached a paper clip to the bag and then we tied seven rubber bands together and hooked them onto the paper clip.”

Derrick and Lovell entered a project in the environmental challenge.

“We did the endangered species as our topic,” Derrick said.

In five days the girls collected more than $230 at the school for the Knoxville Zoo, Lovell said.

Hayes entered the graphic design challenge. He created a cover for a future Tennessee TSA program.

“It was like a highly advanced spaceship shooting into outer space with the TSA logo.”

This was Garner’s fifth year to take students to the competition.

“I’ve been a judge. I’ve helped run it. I’ve been an advisor,” he said.


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