An innovative idea designed to help entertain and comfort children in hospital has seen nine-year-old Peta Eldridge recognised as one of Australia’s brightest young inventors.
The Year 4 student from St Francis of Assisi Primary School in Calwell is a finalist in Origin’s littleBIGidea competition for her award-winning idea, Turtle Mate. It was inspired by Peta’s sister who has spent time in hospital this year.
Made from soft, squeezable material, it features a control panel for hospital room technology and incorporates music and book-reading capabilities, as well as calls to family.
“She (my sister) thought it was pretty cool and that she would use it while in hospital,” Peta said, although it can also be used at school, home, respite care, “anywhere kids can feel stressed or scared”.
In coming up with the idea, Peta said the turtle concept came first – “turtles are awesome” – but she also wanted to make sure it could be accessible to everybody, part of which was including buttons with braille.
“I like inventing stuff,” Peta said. “I’m not very good at the electronics but I like thinking about ideas.”
And innovative thinking certainly runs in the family, with Peta’s sister a 2017 littleBIGidea alumna.
“She won this competition and she made a robotic dog so we just say we have an animal theme,” she smiled.
According to littleBIGidea judge and 2018 NSW Young Australian of the Year, Macinley Butson, many of this year’s entries demonstrated “empathy for the community and care for our environment”. “Ideas focussed on healthcare, improving the lives of people with illness or disability, and technology advancements,” Macinley said.
Peta is one of Australia’s top 12 finalists, and will receive a one-on-one mentoring session to build her idea further in the hope of winning one of three trips to NASA in the USA. Other finalist ideas in the Years 3-4 category include a No-Pain Band Aid, Hero Helmet, and Whiteboard Glasses.
Three national winners (one from each category: Years 3-4, 5-6 and 7-8) will be announced in mid-November.
For further information, visit www.littleBIGidea.com.au