Hold on to your earrings

1
Fifth-grader Eva Schwartz shows off her invention, the Earring Empathizer. Photo by Samantha Cooper

Eva Schwartz is a smiling, mile-a-minute-talking and jewelry-loving 10 year old. She also likes to solve problems.

“I just got my ears pierced in July,” she says, sitting in the conference room of Milton Gottesman Jewish Day School of the Nation’s Capital, where she’s a fifth grader. “Since then I’ve lost five pairs of earrings, so when the National Invention Convention was coming up, I was like, ‘I gotta fix this problem.’”


The Invention Convention gives students the opportunity to use their STEM skills with an invention. For Eva, it’s the Earring Empathizer, which she designed to prevent new earring-wearers from losing their studs.

Next week, she’ll travel to Dearborn, Mich., outside of Detroit, to demonstrate the empathizer. The invention consists of a short chain that attaches to the back of an earring. If the earring is about to fall off, the chain drops, alerting the wearer.

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Eva says it took a while to figure out the right length of chain. She went through several iterations before settling on one that worked.

“It’s a 14-length chain and on each backing there are these small holes I have to attach it to,” she explains. “I didn’t want it to weigh too much that it might hurt the person’s ear, but I also wanted them to able to feel it.”


Eva Schwartz shows how her invention looks like while being worn Photo by Samantha Cooper

Eva enjoys making jewelry, especially earrings, so she already had the tools and materials for her invention.

“When I was looking through my materials, I knew wire wouldn’t work, because it would just be uncomfortable for the user. And then I looked at this chain necklace I had. And I’m like, ‘Wow, chain would actually look really nice and it would also work very well.”

She says she has a patent pending for her invention.

“I was like, ‘Mom, this is a unique invention and I don’t want anyone else to take this idea,” she says. “And so my dad knows a friend who helped us out with the patent.”

She’s made three pairs of empathizers. Her after-school activities — newspaper club, theater, tennis and softball — don’t leave her much time to manufacture them. It takes her about 15 minutes to make each pair, she says. The chains are small and the measurements need to be precise, otherwise the whole thing is ruined.

Fifth graders at the Milton School are called on to develop a solution to a problem and then present their project at STEM night, according to science teacher Elana Cohen.

She says it was hard to pick which students to send to the Invention Convention. Eva is one of two.

“I wanted to send all of them,” Cohen says. “But Eva’s project is really solving a problem that spoke to a lot of people. At our STEM, when people walked around, they were like, ‘Oh, my gosh! That’s such a real problem!’ We had to narrow it down to somebody who would shine and she’s a very shiny person.”

The Earring Empathizer may be Eva’s first invention, but it’s not her first foray into business.  She’s sold toys and jewelry and homemade slime.

Even so, she’s feeling butterflies as she gets ready to head to Dearborn.

“It’s an excited nervous,” she says.

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