LOS ALAMITOS : 7-Year-Old Twists Way to Award

Hair is important, even to a 7-year-old.

That's why Stefani Green created "Stefani's Curler Kit for Kids," an invention that earned the Rossmoor Elementary School pupil top statewide honors in the "1990 Invent America" competition.

Stefani, who enters the second grade this fall, was selected as first-grade winner, beating out about 100,000 California entries. She received a $200 U.S. savings bond for her efforts.

"She was the best first-grade entry that we got from the entire state," said Diane George, spokeswoman for Invent America, a national program launched in 1987 by then-Vice President George Bush, who now serves as honorary chairman. "When you consider the 26,000 entries we got from the greater Los Angeles area alone, her achievement is all the more remarkable."

The Invent America program is more than just a chance to compete and have fun. It is designed to get children to think creatively at an early age, George said.

When Stefani's science teacher, Claudia Ross, announced last spring that the school would be holding an "invention convention" instead of the annual science fair, the blond-haired, brown-eyed youngster's mind began to race.

"I was thinking about what I could invent, then I thought about how I like to curl my bangs but always burn my forehead," Stefani said. "That's when I got my idea."

Stefani's invention is a fan-shaped device made of heat-resistant plastic that is fastened to the curling iron. The device prevents the hot parts of the curling iron from touching the forehead or neck--two areas Stefani said are particularly at risk when curling hair.

Like other entrants in the contest, Stefani built a model of the device from cardboard.

Although her first journey into the territory of Thomas Edison and Alexander Graham Bell was a success, Stefani said she doesn't plan on doing much inventing in the future.

"It was sort of aggravating and took a lot of concentration," she said. "It's exciting I guess, but what I really want to be is a dolphin trainer."

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