BY ERIN COX
DHI Media News Editor
WERT — Van Wert City Schools Board of Education members were impressed
on Wednesday afternoon after hearing a presentation from high school
freshman Alaina Arney who is seeking a patent for a product she made to
help the custodial staff at the schools.
Arney started the project
when she was in eighth grade and has been working on it for almost a
year. The project started when she was given the opportunity to work on
some advanced assignments during her class time.
“I was presented
with a problem from Mr. [Zane] McElroy and the custodial staff that they
had this piece that they could not fix that was inside of a toilet,”
The custodial staff could not get a rubber gasket
off easily without breaking the plastic piece in the toilet they were
trying to fix. McElroy, the Gateway to Technology teacher at Van Wert
Middle School, and Bob Spath, the engineering teacher at Van Wert High
School, both get requests from teachers and staff for problems they may
be having to which the teachers ask their students to try to fix the
Arney took the problem and worked on a solution she
thought would work. With a little help from McElroy and Spath, she
designed two pieces, one that would go on top of the piece that needed
removed and one that would go on the bottom.
She went through about five or six revisions and used a 3D printer to print the tool.
the custodial staff’s relief, the tool worked, so well in fact, that
the custodial staff asked a plumbing sales representative if there were
any tools like that to remove that piece. As far as the school staff has
researched, they cannot find any tools like it.
The school reached out to Jennfier Tipsword, who graduated from Van Wert High School in 1987, and is now a patent attorney.
attended Northwestern University where she earned a degree in
engineering and then went to Hofstra University to get her law degree,
specifically for patents.
She met with Arney and school staff
members on Tuesday and explained the process of getting a patent. Arney
will apply for the patent which is a couple hundred dollars and then
Tipsword explained that it is mostly legal work from there. Tipsword
offered to donate her law firm’s services to do the research needed
which would be equivalent of $5,000 to $10,000 in services.
that you have the part it looks pretty simple,” Van Wert High School
Principal Bob Priest said. “As Jennifer explained, ‘You know, if you
look at the little plastic thing on the end of your shoe string that
looks simple as well, but until somebody thought of it, it was never
In other business, the Van Wert City Schools Board of
Education members chose Debby Compton as the president for 2017 and
Anthony Adams as vice president.
The board accepted the
resignation of Kathy Wiseman, a paraprofessional at the Early Childhood
Center, after 18 years with the district effective at the end of the
2016-17 contract year and Greg Amstutz, a high school custodian after 11
years of service in the district, effective July 1, both due to
The board’s next meeting will be at 5 p.m. Feb. 15 at the S.F. Goedde Building board room.