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Whetstone High School Student Receives U.S. Patent for Invention
March 14, 2023 -- Damian Earley was walking his dog one windy day when inspiration struck.
He noticed trash and recycling bins had fallen around his neighborhood and figured there had to be a solution. His idea would later garner him a U.S. patent.
Damian, an 11th grader at Whetstone High School, became interested in the invention process when he was a second grader at Clinton Elementary.
“In second grade, Professor Prototype and Captain Gadget, the spokespeople for Invention Convention, came to our school and did this assembly,” he recalled. “I was pumped about it. I liked it and knew I wanted to do Invention Convention, so I waited until I was in third grade when I was eligible.”
Invention Convention is a competition where students go through the invention process to solve an everyday problem. Damian had received a drone for Christmas and knew he wanted to do a project related to them. He came up with the solution of a drone network controlled through a phone app that would allow people to get their prescriptions delivered to their door.
“We didn’t have the resources back then to push it along, but he was in third grade, and it’s pretty amazing that his idea is now something we see,” his mom, Lisa Earley said. “It’s pretty amazing how this is really something that exists today.”
The first time he competed, he got third place in the district and a $200 scholarship. After that, he knew he wanted to compete again. So, he participated the following year in fourth grade, advancing to the national competition, and then tried again in fifth grade.
Three years later, as an eighth grader at Dominion Middle School, he decided to compete again. This time, his invention earned a patent award at the national competition and an invitation to the global competition.
His invention is a weighted base that supports a trash or recycling bin. It has a pedal mechanism that attaches to the bin from the axle to keep it from falling over.
He went through the patent application, funded by General Motors and a law firm in Michigan, starting in 2021. He received his official patent a few weeks ago.
“The patent itself is a little booklet with a certificate on the front,” Damian explained. “It has the patent information, an abstract diagram, and a detailed description of the actual invention inside.”
Damian said the competition helped him build confidence and many other life skills.
“This definitely helped with my drive to get things finished and take things to the next level,” he said. “I’m also a better public speaker now and better at problem-solving.”
In the future, Damian hopes to pursue a career in engineering. However, he hopes to see his product out in the real world eventually and that his invention will lead to an internship, career, and educational opportunities.
“My goal is to sell it all together or work with a company to earn a royalty and manage marketing,” Damian said. “I want to see it in the real world because it would just be so awesome to see my idea out there.”
Lisa said she hopes more students will take advantage of Invention Convention because of the benefits she has seen. She said the free competition had been a life-changing experience for Damian and her other two CCS children.
“Also, as a teacher, I see the benefits my own children have gained through it, and I want this for all kids,” she said. “We are so grateful for Invention Convention and would love to see more CCS students have the opportunity to be problem-solvers and communicators through the invention and design process.”