Southington students sweep Cyber competition

Seven Southington students came home with awards from the state-wide Invention Convention. Above, Kennedy sixth graders celebrate the third consecutive victory by Kennedy Middle School students. From left, Maggie Wernicki, Avery McQuatters, Chelsey Arduini, and Bella Sena. (Submitted photo)



The Board of Education recognized the successes of seven elementary and middle school students for their innovative work in science. Three fourth graders were selected as “top inventors” at the state-wide Invention Convention, and a team of four sixth graders earned first place at the state-wide E-Cybermission competition.

John Duffy, science curriculum coordinator for Southington public schools, introduced the students to BOE members at their May 10 meeting.

“We have some special award winners here with us tonight,” said Duffy. He explained the Invention Convention has been growing substantially year after year, raising the level of difficulty to place each year.

Evan Lebo, fourth grader at South End Elementary School, placed first for his invention, “The Garden Grip.” Victoria Cascio, also a fourth grader from SEES, places first for “The Eye-Band,” and Isabella Rees, fourth grader from Kelley Elementary, placed first for the “Helping Hands Pot Pourer.”

Both Cascio and Rees were invited to the upcoming national competition.

“These three elementary students were selected as top inventors at our local competition and then were selected for the state competition at our regionals. They were then were given special recognition at the state competition,” Duffy said. “They are way up there in comparison to all the inventors throughout.”

BOE chair Brian Goralski commended the students for their work. “What we heard Mr. Duffy talk about was your creativity,” he said. “What’s most important for us as parents and educators is that you are making an example for our Southington students. You are role models for us and we’re really proud of that.”

Both DePaolo and Kennedy Middle School had winning teams at the E-Cybermission Competition, however only the Kennedy team could attend the BOE’s May 10 meeting. The Kennedy took first place, and the DePaolo team took second. The DePaolo team will hopefully attend and be recognized at the next meeting.

“This competition is a web-based STEM competition for grades six to nine,” Duffy explained. “Teams of three or four students are asked to identify a problem in their community and define it, and then design a solution.”

The groups are required to design and build a test prototype and document all their steps. Everything gets entered into an online database and gets submitted to judges. Kennedy Middle School was represented by sixth graders Bella Sena, Avery McQuatters, Margaret Wernicki and Chelsey Arduini for their project “The Garbage Pushing Platform.”

“I must admit, I talked with them when they were working on it and I wasn’t really sure about their project, but when they brought their project to the convention, I thought, ‘Wow, this really is a very cool project,’” Duffy said.

Each student received a $1,000 U.S. Savings Bond.

“Making something that never existed before is impressive,” said Goralski. “We are so proud of you. You are charting the course for others to follow and setting an example for your peers.”

Duffy was also proud to share that Strong Elementary School fifth grader, Leighann Melanson, attended the Invention Convention with a pet-related invention and noticed several other students had done the same. She also noticed there were no sponsors in attendance who were interested in animal inventions, so she contacted CT Invention Convention Director, Ron Katz.

“I was wondering if I could be of any help to get sponsors for these types of inventions,” Melanson wrote. “I was thinking of either companies like Petco, or organizations like the Connecticut Humane Society.”

To her delight, Katz was both interested and impressed. He responded with the “green light” and shared his sponsorship information with her so she can get to work reaching out to potential companies.

To comment on this story or to contact staff writer Sheridan Cyr, email her at

Leave a Reply