The next time your child skins a knee, don't scrounge around the bottom of your purse for a bandage. Instead, keep your first-aid supplies in something easy to find … like a plastic egg.
That was the reasoning of Madison Cayer, age 10, who won the Oxford Public Library's Invention Contest on October 18. The challenge was to invent something useful out of plastic eggs and recycled materials.
Madison invented a "First Egg Aid Kit." She filled an egg carton with color-coded plastic eggs containing plastic bags, Neosporin, Band-Aids, and candy. On her contest entry form, she explained, "This invention is to be used for helping moms when they're out with their kids."
She added, "The judges should pick this invention because if it was an item in a store, I am positive that a lot of moms will buy it."
Based on the reactions of her fellow contestants, a lot of children would buy the First Egg Aid Kit, too. Contest participants particularly appreciated the candy inside the kit, which Madison happily distributed despite the lack of a first-aid emergency. (Although one could argue that a belly empty of sweets is always an emergency.)
But why the focus on eggs?
In the spring, the library asked patrons for plastic eggs to be used to track reading during the summer reading program. Many families generously supported this effort.
But after the summer, the library had a plethora of plastic eggs! There were mini eggs, giant eggs, shiny eggs, SpongeBob eggs... a truly egg-stravagent variety! To make the collection more manageable, it was clear that some eggs needed to be given away. But why would anyone want a bunch of plastic eggs when it wasn't Easter time?
As the children's librarian, I was stumped until I realized that the children could answer that question for me. Our young patrons are always very creative; if there was a nontraditional use for plastic Easter eggs, they would discover it. And eggs-actly like that, the Invention Contest was born!
In September, patrons ranging from five-year-olds to adults were asked to invent something useful that solved a problem. They were instructed to bring their inventions to the library on October 18, when contestants would also act as judges.
The results were impressive. One contestant devised a dispenser to water plants when a person is away on vacation. Another designed a squirrel-proof bird feeder. There were a cup, a purse, a paperclip holder/maraca and brightly-colored snakes. Other contest entries included toys to stave off boredom, such as Rapunzel puppets surrounding a medieval castle. Plus, a peace sign jewelry holder was a very close runner-up to first place.
As the winner, Madison received the grand prize: a copy of Toys!: Amazing Stories Behind Some Great Inventions by Don Wulffson and a $10 Walmart gift card to help fund future inventions, egg-related or otherwise.
Madison's First Egg Aid Kit is on display at the library. Patrons are sure to agree: the unique concept with its cheerful colors and sweet surprises could provide an eggs-cellent start to transforming “boo-hoo”s into “whoo-hoo!”s.