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Kid inventor becomes toy specialist

Compulsive jump roper, Michelle Painter, felt there were a few things missing from her toy of choice.
For one thing, she couldn’t change its length, which was a real hassle for a growing girl.
Another problem was the lack of a timer. How could she know how fast she went? The time it took to put her jump rope down and pick up a timer ruined the whole thing.
And so, when her teacher told her fourth grade class to invent or improve a toy, Michelle knew just what to do.
“I thought for people like me – let’s make everything built in,” said Michelle.
Michelle’s idea of a jump rope that could change length and included a timer was submitted to Wild Planet Toys Kid Inventor Contest.
She was one of 100 students in the country who won. That means for the next year she’ll be testing out free toys and telling the company what she thinks. It’s not a bad gig.
“I think it’s neat because some of the toys won’t even be on the shelves yet,” she said.
Her fellow students, many who came up with some nifty toy ideas of their own, are a little bit jealous.
“I know a lot of people that are like ‘If you have a toy that you don’t want, will you give it to me?’” Michelle said.
There’s also a small possibility that the company will start making Michelle’s all inclusive jump rope.
After students found that out, she heard a lot of comments including “You’ll get rich, and I want some money.”
Mostly Michelle is just pleased to be receiving free toys.
“I’ll just be happy with whatever they give me – I’m not picky,” she said.
When she receives a toy, which will be about once every month, Michelle will play with it, fill out a survey and mail it off.
Her teacher, Pat Freeman, thought Michelle’s idea was good, but she felt that way about many of the projects turned in to her.
“There were so many that were really good, and I wasn’t sure what the company was looking for,” she said.
Some other ideas students came up with included “pet pillows,” which were pillows shaped like dogs and cats, robot horses and horns that made noise and played the radio.
“They didn’t actually have to make the toy, which made it real fun because they could be creative,” said Freeman.
Even though her new and improved jump rope idea was picked up by Wild Planet Toys, Michelle still loves her old fashioned one.
“I’m the person if there nothing to do, I’m just bored out of my mind,” she said. “So jump roping’s my thing.”
by Sarah Grano

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