Kids popping with ideas for bubble wrap

From the Associated Press

It’s the stuff many people find addictively fun to pop after opening a fragile package.

But for a group of young inventors, bubble wrap is more than something to stomp on: It’s a source of inspiration. To 11-year-old Kayla Weston, it’s a building material that helps floors absorb shocks under dancers; 11-year-old Max Wallack used it to create wrist cushions for sufferers of carpal tunnel syndrome.

“What’s better than resting on air?” asked Max, who lives in Natick, Mass.

He’s among 15 semifinalists competing in the second year of the Bubble Wrap Competition for Young Inventors, sponsored by Sealed Air Corp., the Elmwood Park, N.J.-based creator of the packaging material. More than 1,400 entries were received from students in 39 states.

Max said he spent months creating bubble-wrap-filled socks with elastic and fabric fasteners to tie around the wrists of people with carpal tunnel syndrome. He asked his grandmother to try out his prototypes.


“I wanted to help her because she had all these cumbersome splints, things that didn’t help at all,” Max said. “Before she had surgery, she was wearing it and it usually helped.”

The contest, administered by the National Museum of Education in Akron, Ohio, was promoted in schools across the country and limited to students in the fifth through eighth grades. Contest entries had to be original inventions that incorporated clear bubble wrap brand cushioning. Company executives said it was possible that some of the student inventions could be used to create new products.

The competition encourages the type of inventiveness demonstrated by Sealed Air’s founders 47 years ago, when they realized a decorative wall covering they had designed made good cushioning for shipped items, said Rohn E. Shellenberger, a company manager.

Other semifinalists used bubble wrap to create a coin bank, a kite kit, a plant shelter, a teaching tool for blind people learning Braille and wallpaper designed to engage and stimulate autistic children.

Sealed Air, founded in 1960, sells a variety of packaging products around the world. The company had about $4.3 billion in revenue last year, with profit up 7.2% to $274 million.

All 15 semifinalists will at least get a $500 U.S. savings bond. Sealed Air, along with the National Museum of Education, will announce three finalists in January, with a grand prize winner receiving a $10,000 savings bond at a Jan. 28 award ceremony in New York.


Kayla, of Longwood, Fla., sandwiched bubble wrap between two sheets of plywood and nailed a frame around it to create a shock-resistant floor.

“Right now, my dance studio is a warehouse. So we just have wood, so when we’re landing it’s a very hard floor. So with the bubble wrap, it would be able to absorb all of the landings, and it would give everyone a cushion,” Kayla said.