The idea is simple, but so are most that end up making millions.
Lane Gardner, sixth-grader at Springville Middle School, does not think his simple idea will make him millions, but he hopes it will make him a little money. After all, the idea was intended only to earn Gardner a good grade in a science class, so any profit would be like frosting on the cake.The idea that may put money in Gardner's bank account: a simple box that warms baby wipes. It came about last year when Gardner had to invent something for Sage Creek Elementary School's invention convention.
Steve Maughan, who taught science at Sage Creek last year but now serves as principal, said the convention is designed to bring out innovative and creative thinking in students. The convention, held every other year, requires fourth- and fifth-graders to identify a need and invent something to satisfy that need.
Gardner remembered how his little sister Brooke cried every time a wipe was used to clean her bottom, and he figured it was because the wipe turned cold soon after being removed from the container. With the help of his parents, Robert and Gayle, Gardner quickly turned the need for warmer wipes into an innovative idea. A tissue cover with the inside lined with a heat tape placed over a box of wipes did the job.
"It took longer than I wanted, but it worked," Gardner said. "It was the idea we were after anyway, and there was nothing we could buy that would work any better. And it wasn't perfect by any means, but the idea was there and it definitely made the wipes warmer than they were before."
Soon after the convention, Robert's brother-in-law, who works for a medical supply company in Colorado, heard about the idea at a summer family gathering. A few months later he called and asked Lane to send his simple prototype to Colorado for more research. Researchers there are using the prototype to design a practical version that could be marketed.
"We had no idea of marketing it," Gayle Gardner said. "I had no idea of the kind of company my husband's brother-in-law worked for. But he said Lane could end up making a little money. The idea is so simple and primitive, but I really think there's potential, especially in a society where everybody wants convenience."
Maughan said Lane's experience will make him more creative in everything he does in the future. It encourages other students to use creative thinking and shows the benefit of holding school projects like the invention convention.
"Even if it doesn't end up going anywhere, it's been a real motivating factor for other kids to go out and use their minds in innovative ways," Maughan said.
"This proves to parents and other schools that this is a valuable kind of activity," Gayle Gardner said.