FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Feb. 4, 2010
EDITORIAL CONTACT: Lisa L. Rollins, 615-898-2919, or firstname.lastname@example.org
MTSU WELCOMES GRADE-SCHOOLERS TO 18th ANNUAL CONVENTION
Students Demonstrate Inventions Feb. 25; Astronaut Robert Gibson Guest Speaker
(MURFREESBORO)—The spirit of invention will once more lead area grade-schoolers to brainstorm and create in honor of this year’s Invention Convention, an annual event that will be held Feb. 25 in MTSU’s Murphy Center.
Now in its 18th year under the direction of event founder Dr. Tracey Ring, professor of elementary and special education at MTSU, the invention-filled activity can trace its roots back to Ring’s own mom.
“My mother did this when she taught fifth grade at a private school,” Ring said, referring to the impetus for child-centered endeavor. “(And) after she retired, I decided to do it on a bigger scale.”
Today, the Invention Convention draws nearly 300 young participants from schools across middle Tennessee, said Ring, who opens the conference to area students in fourth, fifth and sixth grades from public and private schools, as well as those in local home schools.
Thanks to time, Ring said, news about her child-fueled invention event has spread beyond middle Tennessee, including a call several years ago from talk-show host/comedian Jay Leno’s national broadcast.
“Every year, we videotape what goes on, and they were interested in that,” she said.
During the yearly convention, young inventors compete against others in their grade level in two contest categories—Games and Something to Make Life Easier—and division winners are given awards for first through third place. In addition to those trophies, judges give credence to students with special significance, Ring said.
“We give a Judge’s Favorite award to a kid with a really unusual project who didn’t get a trophy in his or her category,” she explained. “We also give an award for the best presentation.”
Beyond developing a presentation, participants also must create working models of their inventions. Ring said the pressure to develop functioning models pushes children to stretch their creativity and makes their feat more impressive.
“You find that most kids make games, usually ones that help them learn what they’re studying in school,” she noted. “Also, in recent years I’ve seen a shift to more technological inventions.”
Aside from the children’s featured inventions, Ring said, “Each year, I pick an everyday object of interest, and feature it. We make a poster about it, so people can learn about its background. This year, we’re focusing on the keychain.”
Robert L. “Hoot” Gibson, a former NASA astronaut, will be the special guest speaker at this year’s event. Now based in California, Gibson grew up in New York before moving to the West Coast to earn a Bachelor of Science degree in aeronautical engineering from California Polytechnic State University.
Following his college graduation, Gibson enlisted in the U.S. Navy, where he received primary and basic flight training and completed advanced flight training at the Naval Air Station at Kingsville, Texas.
While assigned to Fighter Squadrons 111 and 1, during the period from April 1972 to September 1975, he saw duty aboard the USS Coral Sea and the USS Enterprise, flying combat missions in Southeast Asia.
A graduate of the Naval Fighter Weapons School, Gibson returned to the United States and an assignment as an F-14A instructor pilot with Fighter Squadron 124. He graduated from the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School in Patuxent River, Md., in June 1977, and later became involved in the test and evaluation of F-14A aircraft while assigned to the Naval Air Test Center's Strike Aircraft Test Directorate.
Married to Dr. M. Rhea Seddon, a Murfreesboro native, Gibson became a NASA astronaut in 1979, flying on five space missions from 1984-1995 to spend a total of 36.5 days in space. Additionally, he also served as deputy director of flight crew operations from March to November 1996, among other NASA responsibilities.
For more information regarding Invention Convention, please contact Ring at 615-898-550 or via e-mail at email@example.com.
• ATTENTION, MEDIA: To request an interview Invention Convention creator Tracey Ring, please contact Lisa L. Rollins in the Office of News and Public Affairs at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 615-898-2919.
MEDIA ARE WELCOMED AND ENCOURAGED TO ATTEND THE FEB. 25 EVENT, which will be held 9 a.m.-11:30 a.m. The convention is rich with visuals for both TV and print media; however, it is NOT open to the public at large.
With three Nobel Prize winners among its alumni and former faculty, Middle Tennessee State University confers master’s degrees in 10 areas, the Specialist in Education degree, the Doctor of Arts degree and the Doctor of Philosophy degree. MTSU is ranked among the top 100 public universities in the nation in the Forbes “America’s Best Colleges” 2009 survey.