By Kristin Schultz
Eating healthy foods has long been shown to have positive benefits to personal and community health and well being. But like so many things, it’s not always easy to do things that are healthy.
Rosendale Elementary School fifth-grader Simran Utturkar, 10, wanted to make it easier to eat healthy. Her invention, “balance your diet,” was made from items she found around her house and earned her a finalist finish in this year’s Capital Region Invention Convention, a statewide competition for students in kindergarten through eighth grade.
“I was surprised,” Simran said. “I was happy, too.”
Simran noticed her friends and classmates wanted to eat healthy but didn’t know how much of the healthy food they should eat.
“I noticed it was a problem in our cafeteria,” she said. “People wondered how much of the fruits and vegetables they should eat — just a spoonful or a lot. How much is a serving?”
To help solve the problem, Utturkar developed a scale of sorts. The device balances on a fulcrum. On one side of the tray are weights based on the weight of fruits and vegetables. The user simply puts fruits and vegetables on the other side of the tray until it balances.
Simran was one of 1,021 students in the Capital Region to submit an invention idea to the judging committee. The judges reviewed all the submissions and selected semifinalists who then had to build a model of their invention. Judges evaluated those models and named finalists who attended a ceremony and reception on May 18.
She built the model with items she found around her house: a tray and small containers from her younger sister’s toy set; coins for weights; cardboard folded into a pyramid for the fulcrum; and clay fruits and vegetables as model foods.
At the award ceremony, Simran’s invention was on display alongside those of the other finalists.
“There was a cat faucet for cats to drink from,” she said. “And a device to keep fingernail polish from spilling. There were so many cool things.”
Whether inspired by others or trying to solve common problems, Simran is always observing.
“I’m always thinking about things,” she said. “If something is hard, I try to think of a way to make it better.”
Take markers, for example.
Markers always bleed through the paper and you can’t use the other side of the paper,” Simran said. “What if there’s a marker or a kind of paper where that doesn’t happen.”
In addition to dreaming up practical solutions to everyday problems, Simran also plays the piano. “I love it,” she said.
She is working on composing a three-movement piece made up of a waltz, blues and rock section.
In school, Simran likes her math and science classes as well as art and music.
“I like art,” she said. “I like to draw people and trees.”
As for the future: She sees herself as a pediatrician.