Invention would encourage healthy eating

Staff Writer
Columbus Parent

The Scioto Ridge Elementary School student's "Super Nutrition Nanny" scanner won the grand prize -- the 2009 Edison Award -- in last week's Invention Convention.

"The problem is sometimes kids don't take time to read food labels so they make bad choices if they don't read the nutrition facts," Drerup said. "It makes it easier to make good choices and keep track of what they eat."

The scanner would read the nutrition label on a food item and flash either a green, yellow or red light.

"Green's a good food option, yellow's OK and red is not a good choice," Drerup said. "If it flashes red it gives you better food choices."

The "Super Nutrition Nanny" would be small enough to fit in one hand, have a scale to weigh produce and meat, keep track of a person's daily consumption and guide the person to eating healthier food.

Drerup said she got the idea of what the scanner would look like from an inventory scanner her mother, Susan, uses in her work and grocery self-checkout scanners.

She and her father, Jeffrey, worked on the mockup of the scanner, which was made of wood with stickers placed where the operating buttons and information screen would be.

Drerup said she would like to have the "Super Nutrition Nanny" patented.

She also received a $2,500 college scholarship supplied by College Advantage, Ohio's direct college savings plan.

She said she plans to spend her scholarship dollars at Ohio State University.

The Invention Convention is a nonprofit organization formed under Just Think Inc., the organization's documents say. Its mission is to join the educational, corporate and media communities of central Ohio in support of area children.

The convention's annual competition for kindergarten through eighth-grade students begins in the students' schools. Students decide on a problem they would like to solve, develop a solution and research existing inventions to ensure their idea is new. They must document and present their ideas. The invention doesn't have to be a working machine, but the concept must be well developed.

The Olentangy school district makes the Invention Convention competition part of its third-grade curriculum. Close to 1,000 Olentangy students participated this year. Through a scoring process, individual schools narrowed the field of participants, selecting the top students as competitors for the annual convention. Judges use the same scoring process to select winners at the convention.

"The (state's) grade 3 state standards (have) many concepts that are supported by (Invention Convention) involvement -- science, simple machinery, for example," said Pat Farrenkopf, Olentangy director of gifted services in an e-mail. The process also includes "reading, writing, speaking and listening skills which were needed to research and present their ideas."

Before the December holidays, students start learning about inventors and the trial and error process. In March, the students received their Invention Convention packets and began developing their ideas and their invention.

"For the past 17 years over one-million Ohio kids have participated in the Invention Convention creating useful, sometimes crazy and always interesting inventions," a press release said.

Invention Convention is offered to area students at no charge, through the contributions of Battelle, ThisWeek Community Newspapers, Donatos, Honda of America, Huntington Bank, The J.E. Grote Co., The Kroger Co., Limited Brands Foundation, The Columbus Dispatch and Wolfe Associates.

For more information on the program, visit