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The Da Vinci Science Center’s popular Inventor’s Lab Program enjoyed a special day recently because of two young women who excelled in it.
Nyah Tomlinson, a 12-year-old seventh grade student at Lopatcong Middle School in Phillipsburg, N.J., won the program’s 2016 Most Patentable Idea Award during the Center’s Inventor’s Lab Showcase on April 16. The showcase is the annual culmination of the eight-month program during which the students in grades 4-8 presented their own invention ideas before a panel of experts led by James McDaniel, Esq., a patent attorney and former U.S. Patent Office examiner. The students had spent the previous months exploring the invention process and developing their ideas with guidance from professional and retired scientists. Nyah is shown third from the left in the picture above. Her younger sister, Samara Tomlinson, also participated in this year’s program.
As has been the case with all Inventor’s Lab Showcase winners, Nyah will have the opportunity to pursue a United States Provisional Patent for her idea for a Personal Emergency Protection System. She subsequently will pursue a full patent application with review and support from a patent attorney and additional mentoring from program leader and former Da Vinci Science Center Chairman Frank K. Schweighardt, Ph.D. – holder of more than 40 patents around the world.
The 2014 award winner – Vidhyasai Annem of Allentown, Pa. – took advantage of her opportunity and has attained a provisional patent for her idea for her invention of a multiple-section hair brush that keeps stray hair from falling to the floor through use of a special fluid. April 16 was her 14th birthday and was the day she signed her application for a full U.S. Patent in a ceremony following the showcase event.
The pursuing and obtaining of patents for students is what makes the Da Vinci Science Center Inventor’s Lab Program the most unique of its kind in the United States, Schweighardt said.
“What made the day especially powerful was the fact that it was two young women that were being celebrated in a field or pursuit that has been nominated by men for generations,” said Schweighardt, who also served as the Da Vinci Science Center’s interim CEO from 2008-2009. “We say at the Da Vinci Science Center that we bring science to life and lives to science for everybody, and moments like this show how we fulfill that mission and open opportunities for future leaders from all backgrounds.”
Vidhyasai Annem is one of three Inventor’s Lab winners to earn provisional U.S. Patents. The first of those winners, William Schopf of Whitehall, Pa., earned a full patent in Sept. 2012 for his invention of a wind-mill battery charger for solar-powered vehicles that would work more than 20 percent more efficiently and allow a solar car to operate through the night. Ambrose Cavalier, a homeschooled student in Saylorsburg, Pa., had an application for a full patent accepted recently by the U.S. Patent Office. The patent office suggested that Cavalier apply for a second patent, and that process is underway.
Schopf and Cavalier have been honored with the Da Vinci Science Center’s Young Scientist Award, and Annem has been named the Center’s 2016 Young Scientist Award winner.
The Inventor’s Lab Program consists of monthly Saturday morning sessions from September-April. Space is limited, and each year’s program fills quickly. Information about the 2016-2017 program will be announced on the web at davincisciencecenter.org/inventors.