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Skyler Tiffin: Initiating Innovation

Sep 30, 2014 | Innovation, Media Galleries, Middle School News, Uncategorized

100_0933New to both Mount Vernon and the seventh grade, student Skyler Tiffin has already made an indelible mark – one way beyond her years. She recently returned from New York City’s Maker Faire, where she presented the product she conceived, designed and built – the Self-Filling Pet Water Bowl.
Just last year, Skyler turned an ordinary everyday chore into an automatic time saving product. She says, “I was tired of having to fill up my dog’s water bowl ten thousand times a day, so I decided to make what I call the “Awesomest Coolest Easiest Water Bowl for Cats and Dogs.” This water bowl fills up by itself when it needs to, and all you need is wood, a two-liter bottle, velcro, and a thirsty pet.”
She continues, “I once saw my dad do experiments with this “magic bottle.” He put water into it, turned it over a bowl, and when the bottle touched the surface of the water, the water stopped streaming and the bowl didn’t overflow. At the time I was amazed. Years later, I figured out how it works and thought it would be a good idea for the dog dish. When I first put it together, I was so proud of myself, until I heard a loud thump from the kitchen. When I investigated, my dog had a wild look on his face and the two-liter bottle was in his dish. I fixed this problem by not filling the bottle all the way and super-gluing the velcro to the wood. It has been many weeks since it fell, and I think that’s a good sign!”
Skyler’s apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. Her father is Jim Tiffin, Director of Media and Maker Programs in the Lower School. Jim oversees all things inventive, circuited and electrically charged. Of course Jim was very proud of his daughter’s creativity and thought her product was instructables-worthy, so he submitted it to the instructibles.com website, a site that shares what you “make with the world to tap into an ever-growing community of creative experts.”
From there, Make: magazine picked up the story and published Skyler in their February/March 2014 issue, complete with photo, description and instruction graphic. Receiving a lot of attention in the DIY world, the Tiffins decided to take Skyler’s product on the road to attend and present at the annual World Maker Faire, in September.
Part science fair, part county fair, and part something entirely new, Maker Faire is an all-ages gathering of tech enthusiasts, crafters, educators, tinkerers, hobbyists, engineers, science clubs, authors, artists, students, and commercial exhibitors. All of these “makers” come to Maker Faire to show what they have made and to share what they have learned.
On a world stage, Skyler was able to present and demonstrate her water bowl to thousands of participants. She became very comfortable with her summary statement: “This is the water bowl for dogs or cats. It is super easy! In a few simple steps you’ll have a water bowl that you only have to fill up once in a while, and it holds twice as much water for later on.”
Upon her return, Skyler was excited to implement the feedback she received, and was more encouraged than ever, to continue inventing, creating and building. She has inspired her younger brother and little sisters, as well. Trey (grade 6) tinkers with robotics and programming, Sydney (grade 3) creates things from duct tape and Sienna (Kindergarten) enjoys programming on her iPad. Their mom, Becca, loves watching her children make and create, and prefers to do her “tinkering in the kitchen.”
The big winner, however, as a result of Skyler’s innovation, is Raquette – her dog and original inspiration! [justified_image_grid ids=3785,3784,3783,3816,3815,3814,3813,3812,3811,3810,3809,3808,3807,3781,3780,3779,3782]