The Colorful Idea
On the first Friday in January 1991, Vanessa Hess sat in her seventh-grade science classroom at Stonybrook Junior High and heard her teacher, Mrs. Maurice Marchani, announce that each kid had to do a new project. They had to invent something. “There are only two ways you can avoid this,” Mrs. Marchani said. “You can die, or you can move.” As Mrs. Marchani continued, she made it clear that this was not a science-fair type project. “I never want to see another papier-mache volcano,” she said.
Mrs. Marchani wanted to see original inventions. There must be any number of school across the United State where science teachers encourage students to be creative by saying, “Maybe someday you will grow up to be a famous inventor.” To Vanessa’s dismay, Mrs. Marchani had different advice. Why not try to become a famous inventor right now?
In the Indianapolis area, Maurine Marchani has made a name for herself by inspiring her kids to become inventors. One of her students, Steve Prater, has been featured in national magazines. Twice, he won prizes in competition for his inventions. One invention was something called a Hand Stabilizer. A device that enabled a friend of his with cerebral palsy to hold a pencil and write responses on true or false or multiple-choice tests. It worked so well patented, the Hand Stabilizer and began developing it commercially. In his honor, the mayor of Indianapolis proclaimed August 23, 1989, Steve Prater Day.
“But me?” Vanessa asked herself. Once, Mrs. Marchani had instructed her students to figure out ways to drop an egg from the school roof without the egg breaking as it landed. When the teacher, dressed in a bunny suit, tried Vanessa’s idea, the result weren’t so great. “Mine crushed,” says Vanessa.
In spite of her doubts, however, this hesitant inventor had her idea after only a few weeks. In the classroom, Mrs. Marchani had said that when inventors hit upon a great idea, they sometimes shout a loud and victorious “Ah-hah!” But Vanessa? Her idea came as a soft “Hmmm…” It all started on the last weekend in January, when spring-like weather visited Indianapolis. The warm sunny day found Vanessa and her dad in the driveway, washing and waxing the family car.
The maroon Olds gleamed as if new. But Vanessa noticed that each scratch in the paint showed up as a white mark, the white being wax left in the scratch.
“You ought to cover these scratches,” she said.
“Don’t know how to,” her father replied. “Unless I go to an autoparts store and get some touch-up paint. And even then, it may not match.”
“There ought to be a wax with color in it.”
“There isn’t one.”
“I don’t know.”
And she had her idea. She stored it away inside her head and kept hoping a better one would come along. For a while, she thought of developing something to keep apples from turning brown after paring. But every Friday afternoon when Mrs. Marchani checked on her students’ progress, Vanessa shrugged and didn’t say much.
As the February due date drew near, Vanessa realized she was running out of time. A few calls to auto-supply stores and a quick check through an auto magazine indicated that no one else seemed to have produced a colored car wax. So far, so good. Vanessa bought a blue Matchbox car and added blue food coloring to some car wax. She scratched up the toy car, then waxed the thing- and it worked!
The annals of invention are strewn with better disputes between inventors claiming the same product. But this story has a happy ending. The owners of the auto-products company, two brothers named Dan and Don Huffman, were charmed by Vanessa’s story and decided to ask her to appear in an “infomercial” for Magic Shine, their colored car wax. Contracts were signed, and Vanessa and her mom were well paid to fly to California to help make a Magic Shine promotional movie that was later broadcast on TV all over the country.
How did the young inventor like moviemaking? Vanessa ponders the days in Hollywood rehearsing and shooting and taking instructions from the British director. “It was kind a nice,” is all she says.
The success of Vanessa Hess also belongs to her teacher. Maurine Marchani seems to provide classroom experiences that lead to creative thinking. In fact, entering Mrs. Marchani’s classroom is itself an experience. Visitor must find their way past a whole zoo of floppy sculptures that dangle from the wall. A live rabbit hops up and down the rows between the desks. A rabbit? “If you don’t pet her,” says Mrs. Marchani, “she eats your shoelaces.”
The science teacher has a theory that junior high school kids need more physical attention than they admit. A kid who enters the school from a stressed-out home may need to have a rabbit on his lap the whole period. And she also believes that this is just the kind of place that encourage kids to risk having original thoughts. “In a setting that’s offbeat, its OK to make a mistake,” says Mrs. Marchani. “Kids are afraid of being foolish. If the teacher is sort of silly, then its OK for them. Its OK to risk.”
She also notes that the students with the highest gradepoint averages aren’t always the best inventors. “I find that kids who do not do well on paper-and-pencil tests do wonderful things with ideas.” Some people view kid inventions as flukes. But, Maurine Marchani disagrees. “Nobody’s told seventh-graders they aren’t creative yet,” she says. To her mind, when it comes to inventing, twelve is the perfect age.
*An original story from Brainstorm! by Tom Tucker Sent from my Windows 10 phone
And now I'm going to ask you a few question.
1. Who was trying to get an idea for a project?
b. Vanessa's dad
c. Mr. Marchani
d. Mrs. Marchani
e. Maurine Marchani
2. Where did Vanessa studied?
a. Stonybrook Primary School
b. Stonybrook Junior High School
c. Stonybrook Senior High School
d. Stonybrook University
e. Stonybrook city
3. Why Vanessa disagree with Mrs. Marchani advice “Maybe someday you will grow up to be a famous inventor.”?
a. Because no one wants to be inventors.
b. Because it's impossible.
c. Because Vanessa dislike it.
d. Because we can become a famous inventor right now.
e. Because it's weird.
4. What an idea that makes Vanessa becomes inventor?
a. makes a car wax.
b. makes a food cloloring.
c. makes a colored car wax.
d. developing something to keep apples from turning brown after paring.
e. Makes Mrs. Marchani happy.
5. Vanessa ponders the days in Hollywood rehearsing and shooting and taking instructions from the British director.
The underlined word has the same meaning with ...
6. how the end of this story?