Mind-stretching creations


This air freshener, made mostly of rubber bands, was created by local student Halie Nitzche and won first place in the National Rubber Band Contest for Young Inventors' arts and leisure division.

An air freshener made mostly of rubber bands — the brainchild of a Richfield seventh-grader — proves once again that Akron is home to nationally renowned innovators inspired by rubber. Halie Nitzche of Revere Middle School in Richfield, placed first in the National Rubber Band Contest for Young Inventors' arts and leisure division. The contest, presented by the Akron Global Polymer Academy (AGPA) of The University of Akron, drew nearly 400 middle school student entrants from 17 states.
Students competed in arts and leisure and science and engineering divisions.
Nitzche's invention — a home accent piece — incorporates pipe, plaster, newspaper and rubber bands, and doubles as an air freshener. Air-freshening beads stay in the tree's pipe trunk and can be replaced as necessary.
Robert Keller, a fifth-grader from Canton, Mich., placed first in the contest's science and engineering division with his Piano Page Turner. The creation allows musicians to turn music pages by stepping on a binder clip attached to a wooden block that causes a chain reaction controlled by a rubber band.
Dr. Carin Helfer, assistant director of AGPA Science Education Outreach at UA, says students with science and engineering entries "were challenged to use the elastic properties of the rubber band in the function of their inventions, and the winners did just that."
Winners from each division will receive $5,000 paper savings bonds. Runners-up, Grace Murphy of Colorado Springs, Colo., and Mackenzie Steele of Kaysville, Utah, each will receive a $1,000 paper savings bond for their inventions. The remaining finalists will receive $50 gift cards.   
The Rubber Band Contest is hosted by the AGPA at UA and is sponsored by the University and the Rubber Division of the American Chemical Society, all of which are based in Akron.

 Story by Nikita Lero.

Media contact: Denise Henry, 330-972-6477 or henryd@uakron.edu.