THE GATES INNOVATION INVENTION SCIENCE COMPETITION
On December 18, 1998, Charles C. Gates ‘34 graciously gave our school a one-million dollar donation to establish the GIISC. It has become a tradition and a remarkable way for our fifth to eighth graders (also ninth graders until the school canceled the ninth grade program). Rosemary Fetter writes, “Initiated to nurture and support creativity and the entrepreneurial spirit, this unique program encourages . . . (students) to develop inventions that perform a practical function (i.e. repair, make life easier or safer, entertain or solve everyday problems). Students design their own inventions independently, working alone or in teams with teacher-coaches who guide them through the process. Winners receive cash awards and recognition. If the invention can be patented, the school will file a patent on the student’s behalf.”
The program began in the 1999-2000 school year; it continues today. In fact, I am typing this entry on Thursday, March 9 after viewing some of the amazing inventions, as well as reading the informative posters and listening to our poised inventors. As I listened and looked at some of the inventions, I kept thinking, “I can’t believe someone never thought about this before.” On my desk I have a new version of lip balm that doesn’t have artificial ingredients. I might add it smells like chocolate and works well. That’s one example.
Mrs. Fetter also discovered that Mr. Gates had always been interested in invention. “My brother and I grew up in the mountains, and we learned to make our own fun. . . My grandfather built us a woodworking shop and encouraged us to be inquisitive and come up with new ideas. I think Harry and I probably built the first scooter powered by a washing machine motor.”
Mr. Gates loved the years he spent at Graland and recalled his morning trek to school. “Getting up at 5:30 a.m. to commute from Evergreen never seemed like a chore; each day was an event in learning and living. . . With the help of some of the teachers and Miss Georgia Nelson, I became interested at an early age in the process of education. I call it building a mental toolbox, and the sooner youngsters can put that together, the farther ahead they’ll be.
I think great satisfaction comes from productive work. You can make the world better and still have fun in the process.”
These words should be on a plaque at school. They speak to the beauty of education at Graland School.
Graland Country Day School is a private school in Denver, Colorado, serving students in preschool, kindergarten, elementary, and middle school. Founded in Denver in 1924, Graland incorporates a rich, experiential learning approach in a traditional classroom setting, emphasizing the development of globally and socially conscious leaders who excel academically.