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Hilltowns Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, August 4, 2005

Young inventor hits the mark

By Jo E. Prout

WESTERLO--Jacob Ostrander does not chase celebrity—he uses it for target practice.

Ostrander, 13, built a model of an automatic archery scorer as part of a team of six Berne-Knox-Westerlo middle school students who competed at the regional Invention Convention last spring.

Each student designed and built his or her own invention. Ostrander’s archery scorer took him to the state competition held in Rochester. He said that each student who competed regionally received a medal, and each who competed statewide received a trophy.

Ostrander knew about the competition when his teacher, Karen Barber, described it in September. By March, Ostrander decided to compete. "It was a little quick model. It took me a while to do -- a month," he said.

His inspiration was his own experience at archery tournaments. Ostrander began practicing archery two years ago, and soon competed.

"I used to go to tournaments and shoot. Sometimes, they’d judge it and you’d argue it -- if [the arrow] broke the line, or touched the line," Ostrander said.

He said that the judging is time-consuming, because once the arrow is shot, a judge must walk down to the target and bring the arrow back before the competition can continue.

Ostrander said that his model of a scorer was based on electric dart boards.

"The whole target is lined up with little lasers," he said. "When you shoot it, a laser sends a score to a little thing next to your feet. You can put in floppy discs or CDs to graph your score." Ostrander said that he used a laser pointer, like those used by teachers. "It was a model," he said, but not a working model.

Ostrander said that the Schenectady Museum and Planetarium, a supporter of the invention convention competition, sent him a letter asking him to videotape his model. The video could be used in a separate competition to appear on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, he said. Ostrander, however, had other ideas. He did not videotape his archery scorer.

"I shot it with my bow. Target practice. It was fun," he said. After further probing, the full story came out. First, Ostrander hit the model with a baseball bat, and then he used the remaining pieces for a target. "I didn’t want to be on her show. I don’t like being on TV," he said.

Ostrander was on television news two weeks ago when he became a state archery champion by besting two competitors his age. He competed in the guest division and Olympic recurve division.

Last year marked Ostrander’s first entry in the Invention Convention contest. The Enterprise asked him if he were technically- or mechanically-minded, or if he had just been inspired.

"It was a cool idea," he said.

Will he compete again" "Maybe," he said.

Ostrander’s fellow competing students were: Mackenzie Simonian, who created a head stocking as an hygienic way to try on hats; Joey Capuano, who created Sprinklematic, a cake decorator; Christy Koban, who designed No Bites, a tube to feed a difficult horse; Shanelle Lounsbury, who designed a heating brace for human backs; and Nicholas McSpedon, who created an expandable cold-frame to protect vegetables.

Twenty-five students from each region were invited to the state competition.

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