Screen readers: Two navigational links to follow.Skip to site navigation.Skip to page content.
The University of Iowa News Services
The University of Iowa News Services Home News Releases UI in the News Subscribe to UI News Contact Us

University of Iowa News Release


April 20, 2010

Photo: Tracy Older, an 11th grader from Fort Madison, Iowa, shares her invention titled “CO2 Emissions Filtration System Using Lithium” at the 2009 Invention Convention at Iowa State University.

Annual Invention Convention features student innovation at UI April 24

Iowa winters can be brutal, but have you ever wondered how it feels for cows?

Sixth-grader Zach Kettman has. The Bellevue native recently invented “Udderly Protected,” a cover for cow’s udders to protect them from freezing in the winter. Fourth-grader Courtney Jones of Bloomfield, Iowa, wanted to help people with her invention, the “Glow in the Dark Door Handle,” a self-explanatory device that makes it easier to find the door in the middle of the night.

You'll find these inventions and many more at the Invent Iowa 2010 State Convention Saturday, April 24, at the University of Iowa Carver Hawkeye Arena. The event begins at 8 a.m. with registration and setup of the inventions, followed by a ceremony recognizing the inventors from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. The public will have a chance to see the inventions from noon to 1 p.m.

Students in grades three through 12 representing 133 towns and 145 schools throughout Iowa participated in local and regional invention conventions this year to qualify for the State Invention Convention. A total of 334 students will present 266 inventions to demonstrate solutions they feel will make life easier or more enjoyable for many people.

This is the 23rd year for the statewide invention convention, which alternates between the University of Iowa and Iowa State University campuses. Invent Iowa is sponsored by the UI College of Education's Connie Belin and Jacqueline N. Blank International Center for Gifted Education and Talent Development as well as the UI College of Engineering and ISU College of Engineering. Sen. Tom Harkin has been a staunch supporter of Invent Iowa since its inception in 1987. Over the past two decades, approximately a half million students have participated in Invent Iowa.

“This program serves a group of students whose talents in inventing are not typically served by the traditional curriculum,” said Clar Baldus, Invent Iowa State Convention coordinator and administrator for the Inventiveness in the Belin-Blank Center. “Don’t be surprised if you see some of these young inventors in future editions of Time Magazine’s 50 Best Inventions issue.”
For the first time this year, meritorious awards will be given out in honor of Dianne Liepa for her exemplary leadership and support of Invent Iowa. Liepa recently retired from Sen. Harkin’s office after 33 years.

To reach the state convention, inventions must first qualify at local and regional conventions sponsored by the state's Area Educational Associations and regional coordinators. Students selected as meritorious winners at the state invention convention will each receive a $50 savings bond. Additionally, six inventors will be awarded $500 scholarships from the UI and ISU Colleges of Engineering that can be applied toward tuition if the students ultimately attend either college.

In the past, inventors from the convention have been featured on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, in Wallaces Farmer magazine, at the Iowa State Fair and in other national and state media outlets.
Invent Iowa is a multidisciplinary program designed for students from kindergarten through high school. The curriculum is accessible for free through the Belin Blank Center website and has been used worldwide. Each year more than 30,000 students participate in Invent Iowa activities. Students are encouraged to develop inventions that meet the requirements for a patent in the United States: they must be "new, useful and non-obvious." Students are also encouraged to keep journals documenting their inventions' development from concept to completion.

For more information, contact Baldus at 319-335-6189 or 1-800-336-6463 or or visit

The Belin-Blank Center is part of the UI College of Education. For more information visit

To view a video from 2008’s Invention Convention, visit

EDITOR'S NOTE: Reporters and photographers are invited to the event to interview the inventors and to photograph or get footage of their invention displays. The best time to speak with students is 8 to 9:30 and noon to 1 p.m.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500

MEDIA CONTACTS: Clar M. Baldus, Belin-Blank Center, 319-335-6189 or 800-336-6463,; Lois J. Gray, University News Services, 319-384-0077,; Writer: Ashton Shurson