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Creativity on display at Marketplace for Kids

Press Photo by Ashley Martin Zak Raasch, left, and Michael Shirek, right, who are students at Hettinger Elementary School, display their invention at the Marketplace for Kids on Wednesday. They invented the "All-in-1 Puppy Bed" for the event.

People packed into a gymnasium at Dickinson State University Wednesday to see inventions ranging from a dog walking contraption to no-slip book covers during Marketplace for Kids. The event showcased the creativity of fourth, fifth, and sixth graders from Region 8, which includes communities in southwest North Dakota.

The event began at 9 a.m. and lasted into the afternoon.

Sharon Kickertz-Gerbig and Mary Urlacher are the co-chairs of the Region 8 Marketplace for Kids Advisory Leadership Team. Urlacher said the children spent much of the day in different classes and workshops held at the university.

"We have guest speakers come in and so we focus it all on being an entrepreneur," Urlacher said.

Kickertz-Gerbig said the event is not a contest, but all those who display their inventions get a participation ribbon. She said the event lets the children express their creativity.

"It may not work in the real world, but they're getting the process down," Kickertz-Gerbig said. "I hope they get the idea and feeling that they can accomplish what they want."

Michael Shirek, Zak Raasch, and Eric Steen, who all attend Hettinger Public School, worked together to build an "All-in-1 Puppy Bed," for the event. The invention is a heated dog bed with an attached chew toy and storage space for food, water and other toys.

"It's great for car trips because it's got good storage," Shirek said.

The boys said Raasch will likely give the invention to his dog, Gizmo, after the event.

"He likes to chew on stuff, so he'll like it," Raasch said.

They said they were originally going to add curtains to the bed for privacy, but they ran out of time.

Raasch said the project was a challenge and Steen said the hardest part was deciding which member of group was going to do what.

"I had lots of fun," Steen said.

Katelyn Hoerner and Makayla Rivinius, who are students at Jefferson Elementary School in Dickinson, invented the "No Slip Step Mat."

"You just plug it into the wall and it starts to heat up and melts the ice," Rivinius said.

The girls said they had fun creating the project.

"Trying to figure out what you you're going to do is the hard part," Hoerner said.

Urlacher said she hopes that those who participated get "exposure to their inventions and know that they can invent something and have it go farther."

Kickertz-Gerbig said she hopes the program will help keep young people in North Dakota, by showing them options they may not have considered.

"They don't have to work for someone else - they can be their own boss," Kickertz-Gerbig said. "They can live here, raise their family here and fill their niche."