The Diocese of Buffalo held its second annual Xtreme Games and Expo, and cats everywhere are grateful.
Along games, challenges and scrimmages, elementary school students took part in an Invention Convention. Modeled after the reality show "Shark Tank," students in fourth, fifth and sixth grades designed inventions that they think will fill a need, then pitch the ideas to a panel of three judges. The judges asked where the ideas came from, what materials are used, and where the finished product could be sold.
Inventions included a card blocker that prevents other players from seeing your cards, designed for people who have trouble holding playing cards. A busy day at dance class that left two girls from St. Joseph School in Batavia with sore backs led to the design of the Cloud Nine back support. One young lad from St. Andrew's Country Day School in Kenmore came up with an easy way for passing plates at the dinner table. It involves a plate with wheels.
Judges voted the Auto Dish, a cat feeder, as the Best Product, calling it "super" and praising the "great research" the team from Christ the King School in Snyder put into it.
The product would use sensors attached to the cat's collar to open a food dish. When the cat walks away, the dish closes. This would be ideal for households with two or more cats, or that have cats with special dietary requirements.
"One day I was looking at my overweight cat and he was eating my other cat's food. My other cat is really skinny and doesn't get to eat. That's how we came up with the Auto Dish," explained fifth-grader Kaylee Starkweather.
The project was done in school and took a bit of hard work putting it all together.
"We only had recyclables to make it, so it was kind of hard to figure out how to design it," said Grace Turecki, also in fifth grade.
One of the judges experienced his own Shark Tank recently. Tim Downing, from ACV Auctions, worked on an app that won a $1 million in this year's 43North competition. He was impressed by the efforts of the young students.
"I thought the kids were fantastic. The presentations were really top notch. Their product ideas, really some of them could actually be useable ideas if they had resources to continue to develop that," he said. "It's amazing to see. They've taken these ideas and developed them for however many months to be able to come and present. I think getting kids involved in things other than just class work is very rewarding to them. It helps them to be able to transition into the real world. If fifth-graders can come up with an idea that makes sense and is practical and could actually be utilized, that's a great accomplishment."
The X-STREAM incorporated activities and lesson from the Catholic school's STREAM curriculum, which focuses on science, technology, religion, engineering, arts and math. Other activities at the expo included a robotic challenge pitting robot against robot in a stacking contest; an engineering scrimmage that involved bridge and tower building; a Kitchen Chem cook-off where students learn of the origins of foods, healthy food choices, and accurate measuring, also took place.
St. Joseph Collegiate Institute in Kenmore hosted the Dec. 6 event. Bishop Richard J. Malone and St. Nicholas visited the competition.