Hamden Student Wins National Awards for Invention

Congratulations to Maya DiMauro Who Received Three Major Awards at This Year's National Invention Convention!

July 20th, 2020

by Diana Natti Theriault

As adults, many of us have had reason to get an IV placed at one point in our lives and know how stressful it can be. Imagine then, being a child and needing to have an IV placed. Now, thanks to Maya DiMauro, a rising sixth grader at Bear Path School here in Hamden, there is an option for pediatric patients that can help sooth their fears.

During the 2019-2020 Invention Convention, Maya designed and created survIVe, a pillow that can be used for IV placement in children. Below is a video of Maya sharing the idea behind survIVe, and how it will benefit patients, both pediatric, and adult.

"My invention makes the experience of receiving IV treatments more comfortable and less scary for pediatric patients," she says. "It is a soft pillow sized to a patient's arm using three adjustable straps. It houses a traditional arm board located in a pocket under the pillow and includes a detachable stuffed animal for distraction and comfort."

The idea for this invention came from Maya’s own experiences. In May 2019, Maya was diagnosed with a rare autoimmune condition called MOG Antibody Disease, a disease that causes inflammation in the optic nerve but can also cause inflammation in the spinal cord and brain. She began having headaches, and awoke one day unable to see out of her left eye. Temporarily blind in that eye, Maya had to endure a variety of treatments, including multiple IV infusions. It was these treatments that sparked the idea for her invention.

Not happy with the tedious, often frightening experience of receiving her IV infusions, she started to think about ways to make the process less scary, and safer for kids like her.

Maya used these ideas to invent survIVe while competing in our own Hamden Invention Convention, an extracurricular program lead by Ms Shelby Irwin (a teacher at Spring Glen School) and Mrs. Lisa Kingston (a teacher at Bear Path School). The process of invention is one of discovery through trial and error.

The Connecticut Invention Convention (CIC) is a “nonprofit educational program designed to develop and enhance critical thinking skills in children in grades K-12 through invention, innovation and entrepreneurship, while encouraging their interest in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).”

Speaking with us about Maya, her teacher Mrs. Kingston said she “is a hardworking student that strives to do her best. She has been inventing since 2nd grade. Her ideas keep getting better and better. Every invention she has come up with so far has been something to help people and to make their lives better.”

Her invention won at the Hamden Convention and she moved on to the State Convention in May, where she was able to participate on-line, and left with two awards, 2020 Recognized Inventor and the Inventing Her Future Award given by the Society of Women Engineers.

From there she moved on to the National Convention, which was scheduled to happen in Dearborn Michigan, but was instead held on-line in June. Maya’s invention brought home three awards: Cantor Colburn Patent Application Award, the Global Impact Award for Market Potential, and Third Place Overall in the Fifth Grade Category.

Thankfully, Maya’s treatments were successful!

She was not only able to use her experience to create survIVe, she was also able to compete in, and help her team, the Hamden Hurricanes Junior Pop Warner Cheerleaders, win the 2019 National Grand Championship at the Pop Warner National Championship held at Walt Disney World, Orlando FL.

You can watch a story about the team, and Maya, from NBC Connecticut here.

Maya is an amazing student, and should be celebrated as an excellent example of our wonderful Hamden community! Thank you Maya, for all your courage and dedication to your sport, your school, and children out there who may experience nervousness and fear during a difficult time.

If you have a Hamden student who would like to participate in the Invention Convention, there will hopefully be another chance during the next school year.

Ms Irwin, who introduced the Invention Convention program to Hamden, spoke with us about the importance of the program:

“In running this program for so many years now, I have learned that kids who come into it with a clear vision about a problem they want to solve almost always advance. Their personal drive leads the way. I have also watched kids who don’t advance learn how to handle rejection and learn how to turn mistakes into opportunities for growth. Kids who participate invariably become more resilient and more creative problem solvers. On a more basic level, kids learn how to use hand tools and that machines can be taken apart and put back together again. And as a volunteer at the state competition I have noted that the participant pool isn’t as racially diverse as it should be. Now that we are offering it district-wide, I think Hamden is well placed to use the program to increase equity within the district and become a model for the state to follow."

Kudos also go to Hamden teachers Lisa Kingston and Shelby Irwin for their role in bringing the Invention Convention to Hamden students, and for giving kids like Maya the encouragement and support to bring their own ideas to life!

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