A whiz kid from Mountain View School with invention on his mind traveled to Michigan from Bristol to see if he had the right stuff.
Kaden Paghense of Mountain View School, inventor of the Locker Blocker, took part in the 2019 National Invention Convention and Entrepreneurship Expo in Michigan.
He was one of three students to make the journey. Also participating were Emily Walls of South Side School, inventor of the 2-Go Safety Belt; and Lucy Pons of Edgewood School, inventor of the Pencil Extender.
Kaden Paghense, who presented the Locker Blocker to the Bristol school community on April 9, explained the Locker Blocker was born during a lockdown drill at his school. He wanted to be able to help protect his classmates and teachers while maintaining the “kid-friendly appearance, and not be invaded by bars, cages, and locks,” and so he decided to use lockers “as they are already part of the environment.”
Kaden Paghense designed a locker unit that would function like an ordinary locker unit until engaged, in which point the unit of lockers would extend across the hallway, blocking off certain parts of the school. In his design, Paghense made sure to include an activation button, allowing the Locker Blocker to be activated from the safety of a classroom. The button would also send an emergency call to local authorities.
The state competition was held shortly after at the University of Connecticut where, according to his mother Veronica Paghense between 1,200 and 1,500 students participated. Of those students, her son was one of four to be recognized by Pratt and Whitney, and walked away with the Moving the World Forward Award.
Nationally, approximately 108,000 students participated across the country. Out of that 108,000, Kaden Paghense was one of 507 students that made it to the national competition.
“When he was waiting to find out if he was going, it wasn’t even about him winning, he was just like, ‘I hope I go because I really want to make a difference,’ that’s all he kept saying,” said the Veronica Paghense, Kaden’s mother, who noted the Locker Blocker wasn’t her son’s first invention idea.
“It was just a completely different outlook than a lot of kids have, he really just wanted to go and so people can hear about it because he just wanted to help.”
Once on the national stage, Kaden Paghense was assisted by his older brother Gabriel, a student at Northeast Middle School. Their mother explained that due to a speech impediment, the national convention allowed her son to present the Locker Blocker, but also allowed his older brother to be off to the side, with Kaden Paghense’s thoughts written on note cards.
Kaden Paghense described the national competition as awesome, and said that he was very excited.
“I think that they were impressed, and like, some people said that it’s sad that we need to have this,” said Kaden Paghense.
Next year, their mother explained, Kaden and Gabriel hope to attend the convention as a team where they would re-enter the Locker Blocker, armed with a working model.
And while he may not have walked away with the top prize, Kaden Paghense said some of his favorite moments of the trip was walking around the Henry Ford Museum, and seeing the bus Rosa Parks sat on when she famously wouldn’t be moved to the back of the bus.
Veronica Paghense said she was very grateful to the Bristol community for supporting her sons, not only financially, but with well wishes, and checking in on Kaden’s progress throughout the national competition.
Comments? Email tmurchison@BristolObserver.com.