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Innovators show off ideas

Alissa Widman Neese • Feb 16, 2014 at 9:41 PM

When Luke Meyer recently enrolled in an inventions class, he already considered himself quite the innovator.


“I invented a new drink once,” the fourthgrader explained. “I mixed the regular Mountain Dew and Baja Blast at Taco Bell” This weekend, his contraptions gained a little more complexity, thanks to the assistance of a few EHOVE Career Center instructors.

On Saturday, he crafted a decent-sized container to hold all his tiny lego pieces. Next weekend he hopes to design a device to transport yard waste during all seasons — even outfitted with skis to dispose of snow during winter.

“This class is so much fun, I can’t even explain it,” said Luke, who attends Norwalk Catholic School.

More than 400 local children, including Luke, gathered at EHOVE Career Center for its Youth Enrichment Program on Saturday to participate in about 30 different hands-on courses.    

Click here for more photos of the program.

The popular series is an annual tradition, taking place each Saturday morning in February.

The career-technical school has offered its Youth Enrichment Program for at least 20 years, providing fun, low-cost educational activities, while also giving the area’s youngest learners a chance to visit campus, some for the first time.

Courses are geared toward students in first grade through eighth grade, but some admit adult members, too.

“We want to give them a chance to see what EHOVE is all about, and the kids love it” six-year program coordinator Karen Lehrer said. “We’ve had some classes sell out in 10 minutes, because they’re so popular”

This year’s educational offerings included culinary arts, cosmetology, carpentry, animal science, inventions, online gaming, self-defense, foreign languages and more.

Instructors are certain there’s at least one class to fit every student’s interests.

Sam Daneker, a home-schooled seventh-grader from Milan, spent more than two hours in EHOVE Career Center’s Fabrication Laboratory, a small-scale workshop featuring a 3-D printer and computer-controlled tools. He created a wooden “welcome” sign, with its letters entirely carved on computerized machines.

His two older brothers joined EHOVE Career Center’s successful high school robotics team, which utilizes the lab often.

Sam plans to join the pair soon.

“I like to build stuff, so this is the best thing for me,” he said. “This is my second winter class, and I’ve taken one in the summer, too”

Meyer and classmates Fiona Shella and Sara Skaff, meanwhile, said they plan to stick to tinkering with their inventions.

Next Saturday is Thomas Edison day, and they have an array of homemade inventions prepared for show and tell.

“Once I made a toothpaste squeezer, by taping it to cardboard and a pencil, to make sure you get all of it out of the tube,” Sara said. “Now I’m going to bring in a butter shaker, to help make homemade butter easier”

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