Compulsive jump roper, Michelle Painter, felt there were a few things missing from her toy of choice.
For one thing, she couldnâ€™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.
â€œI thought for people like me â€“ letâ€™s make everything built in,â€ said Michelle.
Michelleâ€™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 sheâ€™ll be testing out free toys and telling the company what she thinks. Itâ€™s not a bad gig.
â€œI think itâ€™s neat because some of the toys wonâ€™t even be on the shelves yet,â€ she said.
Her fellow students, many who came up with some nifty toy ideas of their own, are a little bit jealous.
â€œI know a lot of people that are like â€˜If you have a toy that you donâ€™t want, will you give it to me?â€™â€ Michelle said.
Thereâ€™s also a small possibility that the company will start making Michelleâ€™s all inclusive jump rope.
After students found that out, she heard a lot of comments including â€œYouâ€™ll get rich, and I want some money.â€
Mostly Michelle is just pleased to be receiving free toys.
â€œIâ€™ll just be happy with whatever they give me â€“ Iâ€™m not picky,â€ 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 Michelleâ€™s idea was good, but she felt that way about many of the projects turned in to her.
â€œThere were so many that were really good, and I wasnâ€™t sure what the company was looking for,â€ she said.
Some other ideas students came up with included â€œpet pillows,â€ which were pillows shaped like dogs and cats, robot horses and horns that made noise and played the radio.
â€œThey didnâ€™t actually have to make the toy, which made it real fun because they could be creative,â€ 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.
â€œIâ€™m the person if there nothing to do, Iâ€™m just bored out of my mind,â€ she said. â€œSo jump ropingâ€™s my thing.â€
by Sarah Grano