AKRON (Feb. 17, 2009)—A device called the “Plant Sitter” has won the inaugural Rubber Band Contest for Young Inventors—as well as a $10,000 savings bond—for Max Aifer, a seventh-grader from Arlington, Va.
Aifer bested 313 competitors in the national contest, sponsored by the University of Akron, UA's Akron Global Polymer Academy and the ACS Rubber Division of the American Chemical Society, and Alliance Rubber Co. He was named the winner at an awards ceremony on Feb. 14 at the university.
The Plant Sitter waters houseplants by means of a watering basin suspended by rubber bands over a hanging planter. Aifer said he came up with the idea when his family faced the age-old dilemma of keeping their houseplants alive while away on vacation.
“If you're on vacation and you can't trust your neighbor to watch your plants, this is the product for you,” Aifer said.
The 12-year-old used seven rubber bands to create his device, which triggers the release of water onto a plant when it becomes dry. The houseplant, suspended in a hanging basket by rubber bands, rises when dehydrated and prompts a sink strainer to release water from a basin above.
Other winners in the contest were Grant Neil, an eighth-grader from Kirkland, Wash., who invented “The Rip Band,” a device that removes labels from food cans, and Jared Mann, a sixth-grader from Christiansburg, Va., who invented “The Power Tree,” a mechanism that uses wind power to move magnets through wire coils to generate inexpensive electricity. Neil received a $5,000 savings bond for placing second, and Mann $2,500 for coming in third.