A self-making bed, a nosy sister alarm, a massage blanket and a guitariano – a mashup of a guitar and piano – were all on display at Irving Elementary School on Thursday.

Science and math teacher Candy Connolly-Tobias gave more than 50 fifth-graders an assignment in March that had the youngsters keeping “inventor’s journals” and building prototypes of their ideas.

The children displayed the fruits of their inventive minds Wednesday at an invention convention that packed two classrooms.

Ever want to have a nice, cool ice cream after a long bike ride?

Well then, Lydia Diehl, 11, has just the thing for you.

Lydia’s bicescream is a tubular, insulated container she fills with ice and rock salt. Inside the container she places a quart-sized thermos filled with whipping cream, half and half, and sugar. The entire contraption mounts to a bicycle seat and rests on the bicycle’s back tire, which rotates the container as the cyclist puts the miles on.

After about 30 minutes of pedaling, voila, ice cream.

Connolly-Tobias, who has been teaching for 30-odd years — eight in Bozeman — was assigned this year to focus her teaching on science and math. She’d held invention conventions in Alaska, where she formerly taught, but this was her first go at it here.

“Problem-solving is not always on a piece of paper or in a math book,” she said.

And she’s brought that message to her kids with visits from a racecar driver, an entomologist and others who illustrated how they use math and science in their fields.

Student Jonas Webster created the stomper stopper – foam that attaches to shoe bottoms to reduce footstep noise – great for people who live in multi-level homes, he said.

“Making the project was really fun, but really hard too,” Jonas said. “But I think a challenge is something that is fun because you can push yourself to do it.”

Shushu Oberle created a Braille wallet, its compartments marked with the raised dots to indicate dominations of currency and various plastic cards.

Though Shushu doesn’t know any blind people, the idea was inspired by the story of Helen Keller, which she read in second grade.

“I learned a lot doing this,” she said. “I learned a fancy way to say blind: visually impaired. I learned a few Braille characters, and I learned Louis Braille invented Braille.

“He was 16 years old and living in France,” Shushu added.

Connolly-Tobias couldn’t be prouder of her students.

“I get so excited,” she said. “This is my passion, to see these kids so excited. They’re having so much fun.”

Jodi Hausen can be reached at jhausen@dailychronicle.com or 582-2630.



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