CALEDONIA TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — When Abram Barker came to class one sweltering September day with his homemade air conditioner in tow, he had no idea it would be so popular.
On Monday, he was awarded a lifetime membership award as the Youth Innovator of the Year for 2017 by the Grand Rapids Inventors Network.
In the midst of a September heat wave, schools began taking half days because the classrooms were too warm. Even though it wasn’t assigned, Abram got the idea to make an air conditioner that would cool his entire classroom, improving a design he found online. The contraption is comprised of a Rubbermaid tub, frozen water bottles, a towel and a fan. It worked, lowering the temperature of the room by several degrees.
Abram is never one to seek attention. He said he just did it because he likes to invent and he likes to help. But he smiled happily as he was handed the award.
His teacher, Kelly LaCroix, said awards like the one Abram got help spark creativity and kids’ interest in science. She said she is proud of her class and how supportive they have been of Abram.
“The class is happy and encouraging of him. And they are not selfish and thinking, ‘Poor me,’ and ‘I wish I would have done this.’ They’re excited for him,” LaCroix said.
Abram’s family was there for the presentation of the award in front of the class and say they’re proud of Abram. They say Abram is an engineer at heart.
Larry Campbell, a Grand Rapids Inventors Network board member, said it is important to the organization to keep a passion for innovation alive in kids because they are the future of invention.
“When we see creative kids like Abram, we really want to promote that,” Campbell said.
The inventors network has been around for more than 10 years. It works to connect inventors with industry experts.
“So when somebody comes to our group and says, ‘Hey, I’ve got a really good idea that needs plastic,’ (we say), ‘Hey, talk to the injection molding guy,'” Campbell explained.
The inventors also talked with the fourth-graders about the skills needed in and steps to inventing.