What can you make from used Bubble Wrap?
Well, lots of things, depending on your level of ingenuity. For example Corianne Cha, 13, of North Brunswick, NJ, made a “stroke rehabilitation color chart,” which helps stroke survivors gauge their recovering strength and helps guide their rehabilitation progress.
Tucker Haas, 11, of Charlotte, NC, made a special swing for children with movement disorders, called “My Personal Swing Thing,” that provides adjustable back and neck support using different amounts of Bubble Wrap brand cushioning.
And Nathan Huber, 14, of St. Peter, MN, created an interchangeable flash card system, called “Bubble Learning,” to help make learning fun for children.
These creative kids are the top finalists in Sealed Air’s third annual Bubble Wrap Competition for Young Inventors, a nationwide competition that encourages students in grades 5 through 8 to demonstrate their creativity and ingenuity by designing an invention that incorporates the use of Bubble Wrap brand cushioning.
“We think it is important to encourage young students to be inventive and also to celebrate their talents and achievements,” says Ken Aurichio, director of corporate communications for Sealed Air. “The competition also encourages students to work with a teacher or mentor on their invention. These people are so important because they are one’s who inspire our youth on a daily basis.”
Sealed Air organizes and sponsors the annual event in conjunction with the National Museum of Education, which reaches out to teachers and educators informing them of the competition.
This year’s competition attracted more than 2,200 entries from 40 states — with entries that included everything from a holiday tree skirt and jewelry to a sanitary hand guard for escalators and a punching bag. Entries were judged based on their originality, creativity and practicality, as well as their benefit to society, marketability and overall presentation.
The three finalists will get an expense-paid trip to New York, where the grand prize winner and runner-ups will be announced on Bubble Wrap Appreciation Day (Jan. 26).
The grand prize winner will receive a $10,000 U.S. savings bond, while the second and third place winners will receive $5,000 and $3,000 U.S. savings bonds, respectively. The teacher/mentor of each finalist will receive a $500 gift card.
Aurichio says innovation is a big part of Sealed Air’s history. The company invented its Bubble Wrap brand cushioning in 1960 and is also credited with inventing the first Cryovac brand barrier shrink bag for frozen turkeys. He says while the emphasis is on innovation, there is a strong “green” component to the competition as well, in that the students are finding new uses for packaging materials that might otherwise end up in a landfill.
“We get a wide range of inventions — including those with a green component,” he says, adding that this year an inventor created a ‘Bubble Wrap Lamp’ out of recycled components and reused Bubble Wrap brand cushioning.
So what are some of the other notable entries from years past?
“The first winning invention was a prosthetic leg covering,” Aurichio says. “The inventor (whose mom is a double-amputee) and family have traveled to Africa to help those who cannot afford prosthetic leg coverings with bubble wrap. We have had inventions ranging from the fun, to the practical, to the humanitarian — including the bubble wrap yurt, bubble wrap grabber and the bubble wrap carpel tunnel cushion.”