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Showtime for Young Inventors

Connecticut is home to countless inventors, but the innovators drawing the highest praise–from the likes of the Ellen DeGeneres Show, CBS’s Cyberchase and ZOOM in recent years–are the pint-sized variety. On Saturday, May 1, 650 youthful inventors will file into Gampel Pavilion armed with display boards, inventor’s logs, and working models of inventions they designed and built.

The draw? The Connecticut Invention Convention (CIC), now celebrating its 27-year anniversary and its 12th year at UConn with the School of Engineering serving as host and a sponsor.

With a theme of “Imagination in Play,” CIC is the oldest continuously running children’s invention competition in the nation and an exhibition of pragmatic problem solving among K-8 school children who demonstrate impressive ingenuity.

“It is the most gratifying experience imaginable, for the children themselves, of course, but also for the adults involved in making this happen: the teachers, parents, judges and our sponsors,” said Honora Kenney, CIC president and retired RHAM Middle School principal.

The seeds for CIC are sown in the fall, when teachers of K-8 students at more than 100 participating schools across the state ask their students to identify a vexing problem they encounter regularly. The children then consider possible solutions, select one and refine it into a working prototype. Nearly 10,000 Connecticut students are involved in the program and compete at these local level contests for the opportunity to represent their school at the state convention. Students earning top honors proceed to the state-wide convention in Storrs, where they vie for top state laurels before teams of judges from industry, education and government.

Opening ceremonies will begin at 10:00 a.m. Offering keynote remarks will be P. Christopher Earley, dean of the UConn School of Business; Dave Carter, vice president for engineering and technology at Hamilton Sundstrand, will also speak. Judging will take place from 10:45 a.m. until noon, when visitors may view the inventions until the 1:30 awards ceremony. During the event, visitors may explore various exhibits, tour campus, visit hands-on activity booths staffed by UConn engineering faculty and students, and grab lunch at one of UConn’s restaurants.

The Connecticut Invention Convention is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit program underwritten by grants and in-kind support from community, educational institutions, businesses and charitable organizations, including the UConn School of Engineering, Alstom Power, AT&T, the Annie E. Casey Foundation, Bank of America, Boehringer Ingelheim, Bristol Myers Squibb, CASE, CCAT, the Connecticut Science Center, Connecticut Light & Power, CT Space Grant College Consortium, Comcast, DeLuca Foundation, DST Output, GE Energy — Industrial Solutions, General Dynamics Electric Boat, Lincoln Financial Group, Loureiro Engineering Associates, mBLAST.com, Microsoft, Stanley Black & Decker, United Technologies, and Vteams. .

For more information on the Connecticut Invention Convention, visit www.CTInventionConvention.org.