Bexley student among young inventors honored through Invention Convention

CHRIS BOURNEA
editorial@thisweeknews.com
Katie Johnson

Cassingham Elementary School third-grader Katie Johnson placed third nationally in her grade level at the fifth annual Invention Convention U.S. Nationals.

Katie was among six central Ohio students and 500 inventors in grades K-12 from across the nation who were recognized at a July 2 virtual awards ceremony.

The Invention Convention promotes science- and math-related innovation and entrepreneurship among K-12 students, according to Inventionconvention.org. Students selected to attend the national event won affiliate competitions at the local and state levels.

Katie is the daughter of Bexley High School band director Andrew Johnson and Katrina Johnson, an Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center physician. Katie won the Invention Convention's Industry Award for Government and Financial for the invention Hopeless 2 Happiness. Johnson's invention is a device that helps homeless people identify and reserve space at shelters and provides transportation to that housing at public transportation stops.

In a video, Katie said she designed her invention to improve upon technology that enables homeless people to make reservations at shelters. Her invention could be installed at Central Ohio Transit Authority stops and be available for use by anyone at each stop.

With the existing technology, "there is a long waiting list, and you have to have a phone or computer that a lot of homeless people don't have to get reservations," she said. "With mine ... all you have to do is click the button."

For her Invention Convention achievement, Johnson received a resolution from the Ohio Senate signed by state Sen. Hearcel Craig (D-15th District).

She and other Invention Convention winners and finalists also received pro-bono patent awards from law firms and mentoring sessions with marketers, product designers and engineers to help advance their inventions to the next stage.

Johnson said she plans to move forward with making a working prototype of the Hopeless 2 Happiness device.

"After COVID, I would take coding classes to make my app," she said. "I would contact COTA and see if this was OK with them and what I could add. I would contact people at the shelters to see where could I put this, would this work for you?"

In addition to Johnson, other central Ohio Invention Convention winners are:

* Kristina Ma, a Columbus seventh-grader, won first place in her grade category and the Industry Award for Education for her invention, the SociEmoti: Autistic Skills app, to help children with autism enhance their social and emotional skills.

* Vera Wilder, a Delaware second-grader, won second place in her grade category for The Toothbrush Brush to clean excess toothpaste.

* Sam Owsley, a Hilliard second-grader, won first place in his grade category for the invention Sam's Handy Handle Helper, a device to turn off outside faucets from a distance.

* Samrithy Balaji, a Lewis Center third-grader, won second place in her grade category and the Invention Process Award for Best Display Board Award for her Spec X Finder invention to help people find missing eyeglasses.

* Grace Rhodes, a Powell second-grader, won third place in her grade category for the invention Straw-Cycler which helps people recycle straws.

"While many things have been disrupted due to the pandemic, innovation and invention continue and are needed now more than ever," Patricia Mooradian, president and CEO, The Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation in Dearborn, Michigan, which hosts the Invention Convention each year, said in a news release.

"We need to move forward, to create, to problem-solve and with programs like Invention Convention, we are seeing our young people, our young innovators and inventors, lead the way," she said.

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