Imagine, ignite, innovate

Area students impress at Invent Idaho

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Kayleigh Roop, 9, of Post Falls, and her mom, Samantha, demonstrate Sunday how to enjoy “Stringy Things,” Kayleigh’s entry in the games and gadgets category of the Invent Idaho competition at the Silver Lake Mall.

COEUR d’ALENE — With young minds like Garrett Hoyt’s at work, the future is looking pretty bright.

The Forrest M. Bird Charter School seventh-grader entered the 26th annual North Idaho Regional Invent Idaho showcase with one determined and noble goal — to rid the world of conditions like Down syndrome.

His “DNA Reconstructer Robot” is designed to enter fetuses and remove any extra chromosomes, leaving the baby with the natural amount. His design is in the “Jules Verne” category of the competition because it is ahead of its time and requires technology mankind has not yet developed.

“When (a fetus) is diagnosed with Down syndrome, the nanobots go in and remove that extra chromosome to get rid of the Down syndrome,” said Garrett, of Sandpoint. He used pipe cleaners to create a model of a DNA strand for a visual effect.

“It just kind of popped into my head,” he said. This was his second time competing in Invent Idaho, an experience he said is “really fun.” When he grows up, he plans to be a computer scientist.

“When he first came up with the invention, I thought, ‘Wow, that’s kind of thinking out of the box,’ which is kind of a cool idea,” said Garrett’s mom, DeMaris. “I don’t know if it’s physically possible or not, but it would be neat if it was. It would be absolutely stellar.”

This year’s Invent Idaho competition featured the innovations of 217 first- through eighth-graders and one ninth-grader who created displays and progress journals for their projects and showed them off in the Silver Lake Mall from Friday through Sunday. Rows of exhibits displayed the talent and ingenuity of the young inventors, from medical advances and hunting improvements to hover boots and ways to better nourish search and rescue dogs.

Kayleigh Roop, 9, of Post Falls, is fighting boredom, reviving historical entertainment and making it more fun with her “Stringy Things.” Her invention comes in a small, convenient container and provides hours of entertainment with no scissors or mess necessary.

“It is a kit with ‘cat’s cradle’ instructions, six pieces of string, two buttons and four dowels,” she explained. “Kids that are just like, bored and complaining, whining, if they go to a place that has these, they can just build them in the car. You don’t need glue at all.”

The Ponderosa Elementary School fourth-grader and her mom, Samantha, demonstrated how to make “crow’s feet” with the “Stringy Things,” as well as the “cat’s cradle.” They giggled as they described the joy of finally being able to make certain shapes after practicing for a while. This invention is in the games and gadgets category and is only one of about four games that were not board games. Kayleigh said she likes to be creative and may pursue a career as a doctor.

“We’re definitely going to do it next year, and her sister’s going to do it, too,” Samantha said. “We’ve had so much fun with it we want to do it more ... I’m really proud of her for inventing something truly unique.”

Aside from the games and whimsical Jules Verne categories, students submitted entries as models, non-working models and adaptations.

Invent Idaho co-founder Beth Brubaker of Hayden was pleased to say this is the first year the competition has been open to high-schoolers. After assisting students and parents and preparing ribbons for the awards ceremony, Brubaker shared just why Invent Idaho is such an important event for Idaho’s youngsters.

“By teaching invention skills, we’re teaching real-world creative problem solving,” she said. “My confidence is high that our country is in great hands in the future with this inventive spirit.”

The Invent Idaho State Finals will be March 6-7 in the University of Idaho in Moscow, where winners from the North Idaho regional event will compete with students from regions across the state. Winners from that event will be invited to display their inventions in the Idaho State Capitol Building for Invent Idaho Day in March.


Garrett Hoyt, 12, of Sandpoint, stands with his “DNA Reconstructer Robot” project, an invention he dreamed up to help eradicate DNA-related diseases and conditions such as Down syndrome.


More than 200 students participated in the 26th annual North Idaho regional Invent Idaho showcase and competition over the weekend.

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