Deadline is the mother of invention for local daughter

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If the “Eggstraordinary Recycled Organizer” ever becomes a hot holiday gift, my daughter Tess gets credit.

She invented it, and has a handsome certificate to prove it. Suitable for framing.

Tess is a fourth-grader at Indian Creek Elementary, so it’s her year to participate in “Invention Convention.” Kids come up with inventions, and top local ideas go on to state competition.

It’s every father’s dream to have a child who invents something that changes the course of mankind forever, like the McRib or pajama jeans or single-cup coffee pods.

I had some big ideas of my own. All of which were flatly, callously rejected by the inventor. I’d tell you what they are, but frankly, I’m sitting on a gold mine. And in this crazy media game, a guy’s gotta have a plan B.

We’ve also got Ella, our first-grader, to think about. Although I’m pretty sure she’ll invent something clever but troubling, like a shady investment scheme. Ella will leave Invention Convention carrying a big mayo jar full of “seed capital.”

Tess took her time. Months passed. Then, in a flash of desperate creativity, with just days remaining until deadline, the Eggstraordinary Recycled Organizer went from sketchy concept to promising prototype.

It’s an egg carton, opened, and mounted to a thick piece of cardboard with a wire hanger as a handy handle. It can turn a cluttered desk into an organized work space in minutes. Add paint and stickers and it’s both functional and beautiful. It’s also, nearly, 100 percent recycled material. Al Gore has one on his desk, as far as you know.

Still, for all its hastily prepared charm, I worried. I envisioned a convention filled with the children of Rockwell Collins engineers, with robot butlers and rocket backpacks and ice-cream-truck-tracking radar kits.

But when Tess marched in with her invention and large, explanatory display board, her idea became one more brightly painted piece in a vast lunch room mosaic of innovation. And, curiously, that mosaic included many, many organizers. A child psychologist might be able to explain why these kids are trying so hard to bring order to the chaos of our lives.

I was very impressed with the wide array of inventions. There was a slick “No-Mess Fish Fest” fish feeder and the “Plow Cow,” a snow shovel with rubber sides making it a powerful plow. The “Flip-flop Mailbox” has a green flag that pops up when the carrier opens the door, so you know the mail is here. And how could a solar-powered Porta-Potty vent fan be a bad idea?

So much inventing. So much learning. Surely Tess was inspired. “I’m just glad it’s over,” she said, still a little shellshocked by deadline pressure. Well, at least her desk is organized.

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