3 Student Inventions I Need Right Now

Ever had one of those hot summer days at a sports park and wished you had a simple (and dry!) way to cool off? Maybe you should try out the Chilly Sleeve, an arm device that gets cooler the more you sweat in it, thanks to its use of polyvinyl alcohol. 

This is just one of the creative and thoughtful inventions from our Grade 5 Dragons at this week’s Innovation Showcase. Every year, our Grade 5 Dragons practice their collaboration, problem-solving, and communication skills as they develop, design, prototype, and pitch a new product as part of their STEM class.  

Here are just a few of the inventions I wish I could purchase right now. 

  1. 1, 2, 3 Switch Glasses. My days of carrying multiple pairs of glasses would be over right now if I could just buy this product! With the flick of a small button, the glasses convert from regular glasses to sunglasses to blue light glasses. Now that’s efficient!
  2. The Wakee Upper. Parents can outsource those pesky morning wake-ups to the Wakee Upper, which combines an alarm clock with a rolling cylinder to pull off the top corner of the bed sheets, encouraging your child to say goodbye to slumberland. 
  3. Foggles. The perfect gift for the active type or adventure enthusiast, these goggles get the water and fog out when you are swimming and skiing, so the action doesn’t have to take a break!

As part of the Innovation Showcase, the students screened a video advertisement that they had written, filmed, and edited. Then, Middle School Director Kristin Cuddihy and I quizzed them on their process in front of the audience. 

Every year I am impressed by their confidence, public-speaking skills, business savvy, and unconventional thinking. Now, we just need to get these products to market. 

Click HERE to see the products I just told you about!

Danny Vogelman

Head of School

Using Questioning to Help Children Develop Critical Thinking Skills

During my recent visits to classrooms, I have noticed many strategies that our teachers use to help our students develop their critical thinking skills. 

Critical thinking is when we analyze and evaluate information, connect the dots between concepts, and see alternative ways of looking at problems and solutions. 

One of the most effective ways to develop this skill in children is through higher-level questioning. Teachers and parents can encourage kids to think deeply and critically about the world by asking good questions.

Below are questions that the WES faculty frequently utilize and that we as parents  can use at home as well. They can be used to discuss an unlimited number of topics. We can change the subject matter and the vocabulary to meet the needs of children of any age. Just remember to make sure the topic is developmentally appropriate and of high interest to your child.

  • What might have happened if . . .?
  • What are some ways that . . .?
  • How would you improve . . .?
  • Why did you decide to . . .?
  • Why do you prefer ______ to ______?

We can also help children think through their answers by asking follow-up questions such as:

  • Could you elaborate further on that point?
  • Can you express that point in another way?
  • Do we need to consider another point of view?
  • Is there another way to look at this question/problem?

Even younger children can develop the foundations for effective thinking. It is never too early to ask these and similar questions of even our youngest learners.   

But the most important thing is to have fun with this. Keep the conversations light and the topics interesting; the children will not even notice that they are developing a lifelong skill!


Danny Vogelman
Head of School