The top young inventor in the world hails from Long Beach, Mississippi. Last month, WLOX News reported on a fourth grader from Harper McCaughan Elementary School who was one of the finalists in an international invention competition. On Tuesday, she found out she won first place and your online votes helped get her there.
Nine-year-old Marlee Schevers covered her face in surprise the moment she learned that her invention won the ultimate prize.
"Everybody was videotaping it and it was like, 'Oh, my goodness, you won!' and I was like wow!'" Marlee said. "I was shocked!"
Marlee's creation, the Solbrite Purse, captured the highest honor in the ePals Smithsonian Invent It Challenge. The gifted student from Harper McCaughan Elementary received the most online votes, beating out 15 other finalists from all over the world.
"I am proud," said Marlee with a big smile on her face.
She should be proud considering she almost gave up while trying to build the prototype. The purse has a solar panel on the outside, which powers a LED light inside. The inspiration came from her mom who was always fumbling in her purse for her lost keys.
When asked what she would do to make her invention even better, Marlee replied, "A battery-operated solar panel, so it would be charged all the time and a docking station for your phone."
For her hard word and creativity, Marlee won a bunch of prizes, including a scholarship to Camp Invention this summer, a Skype conversation for her class with the staff from the Smithsonian Institution's Lemelson Center for Invention and Innovation, a Lego Technic set, Smithsonian and ePals merchandise, and an award certificate.
To top it all off, attorneys from a patent firm have determined that Marlee's Solbrite purse is eligible for a patent.
"That would be cool, because no one else could make it. I could probably sell it and get lots of money," said Marlee.
"She used those skills to come up with a solution that definitely will solve a problem for a lot of women," said Debbie Holt, Marlee's Discovery Teacher. "I lose my keys all the time in my purse. I'm very excited about it. I will probably be her first customer."
"I didn't doubt myself, but I didn't believe that I was going to get first," said Marlee. "Everyone said the whole school district's proud of me and I believe that."
Marlee's teacher doesn't know yet the final vote tally for Marlee. Her invention did get 2,833 page views.
Two other students at Harper McCaughan Elementary also received recognition for their inventions. Fourth grader Wyatt Dove came up with a Kitchen Buddy, a caddy for cookbooks and utensils. And sixth grader Nick Leitenberger created earmuffs with attached earphones, so you can listen to music even when it's cold outside.