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Edison Science Fair: Anthony Vigliotti shares his passion for science at the Edison Science and Engineering Fair on Saturday at Alico Arena in Fort Myers. Kinfay Moroti/news-press.com
Third-graders Bailey Birchenough, second from right, and Pavan Patel clap for Erika Conrey after she won first place. / photos by Jack Hardman/Special to The News-Press
Fifth-graders Sofia Long, left, and Jessica Anthony congratulate each other Monday for their second-place tie during the fair.

What’s next

2013 Thomas Alva Edison Kiwanis Science and Engineering Fair awards

• What: Winners in categories such as animal sciences, chemistry and computer science will receive about $1 million in scholarships from local universities and colleges.
• When: 7-9:30 p.m. Wednesday
• Where: Alico Arena, FGCU campus, 10501 Florida Gulf Coast University Blvd., Estero
Coming Friday

Gulf Coasting will have special coverage of the Edison Festival of Light junior events, including the junior fun run, parade and coronation of King, Queen and court.
Coming Monday

We will have special coverage in The News-Press and on news-press.com/edison of the Junior Edison Festival — junior run, junior parade, coronation of King and Queen.

More

All things Edison Festival of Light: Visit our special page for complete coverage of the month-long festival, including photos, videos and important dates

• • •

Amanda Podlasek built her invention because she wants to make the world a better place — but the shiny, new tablet and sound system she got out of it probably didn’t hurt.

Podlasek was one of dozens of inventors in first to 12th grades honored Monday at the Thomas A. Edison Regional Inventors Fair awards ceremony in Fort Myers. Many of the inventions came about as students looked for solutions to problems they experience. The results were unique contraptions with names such as Chore Box, Dog Poo Dispenser and Turtle Protector. As winners left the stage, their arms were laden with gold trophies, Sony electronics and thousands of dollars in scholarships.

“I’m really quite excited,” Podlasek, an 11th-grader at Canterbury School in south Fort Myers, said. “I was definitely not expecting such a great reward.”

Podlasek was a first-place winner in the 11th-grade division and the overall high school winner. She will be honored at the Edison Festival of Light Parade on Feb. 16.

Podlasek’s project used tunicates, a type of marine filter feeders also known as sea squirts, to eliminate red tide. Such filters cost about $3 to make and can protect the environment and human health, she said. Red tide has captivated Podlasek’s interest for years.

“I started in seventh grade,” she said. “I saw a red-tide outbreak, and I saw the damage it does to health and environment.”

Andreas Mantz, a fourth-grader at St. Michael Lutheran School in Fort Myers, was inspired when faced with a common problem — his family’s two cats didn’t like trips in a cat carrier. So he invented the Cadillac Carrier, which offers a heater, cat toys and ways to trick the cat into going inside.

“I put a lot of time into this with my family,” Mantz said.

Mantz won first place in the fourth-grade division.

Liam Hughes, a first-grader at Riverhall Elementary School in Alva, was inspired by pollution in the canal by his family’s home in Lehigh Acres. He came up with a creative way to recycle — making gift bags out of recycled newspaper.

“(I’m) proud of him,” his father, Lee Hughes, said. “He has an interest in science and discovery, and it’s something that motivates him to learn more about his surroundings.”

Jim Helms, event spokesman, said sponsors donated about $80,000 in prizes to the young inventors. Shomari Sparks and Jonathan Amezquita, 12th-graders at Dunbar High School in Fort Myers, won two-year scholarships to Edison State College. Daniel Lopez, an eighth-grader at L.A. Ainger Middle School in Rotonda West, won a $4,000 scholarship.

“Walt Disney was renowned for saying if you can dream it, you can do it,” event co-chair Gary Nelson told the audience Monday, “and it’s happening today.”

Connect with this reporter: facebook.com/marisakendallnp (Facebook), @MarisaKendall (Twitter).

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