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Northwest Students Win “Invent It Challenge,” Project to be Displayed at The Smithsonian

Delaney Struckhoff and Makenzie Garbiel Northwest High School students Makenzie Garbiel and Delaney Struckhoff won the team competition for ages 14-18 in the 2019 8th Annual Global “Invent It Challenge.” Their project, the “Pop-Up Planter,” will be on display this summer at The Smithsonian Institute in Washington DC.


According to the “Invent It Challenge” website, the competition asks young inventors to use their creativity to create a new tool or technology to enhance the daily lives and activities of older adults. Winners receive a three-day trip to Washington DC to tour The Smithsonian Institute and see their project displayed.


The Pop Up Planter is a raised garden bed that sits on a hydraulic jack that can be raised to accommodate those who cannot easily get up and down off the ground, have joint issues or other disabilities. The project had personal meaning for Delaney. She said she thought of her great-grandfather, who loved to garden.


“I wanted to help other people do what they love, but I was unsure how to do it. Makenzie came up with the idea for raising the garden bed.” Delaney said that it took about 13 weeks to finish the project, and the most challenging part of the project was building the prototype and researching how to use hydraulic pumps.


Their teacher, Katie Gilbert, said the project was part of the 9th grade CATS gifted program class Gifted Problem Solving.


“I was completely thrilled when I found out that Makenzie and Delaney won first place in the Invent It Challenge,” she said. “They had an incredible idea and worked enthusiastically to bring it to reality.”


Gilbert said that Delaney and Makenzie worked with Northwest High School Robotics Club sponsor Mike Horn to learn how to create the hydraulic scissor lift using Vex robotics. She mentioned that Horn’s son, Devin, won the contest last year, also using Vex robotics, making it two straight years for Northwest projects to be housed at The Smithsonian. Gilbert is understandably proud.


“It is a huge honor to have an invention on display at The Smithsonian Institute, and I certainly hope that the Pop-Up Planter come to market someday so that everyone can enjoy the therapeutic effects of gardening despite back or knee pain,” she said.