Quad-City Times:

Sam Hipple and Matt Moran are getting a head start in the classroom – and in the business world.

Both are seventh graders at Sudlow Intermediate School in Davenport. Both are in the Talented and Gifted, or TAG, program. Both also are taking eighth-grade math and science in addition to being active in athletics and music.

But it is their foray into corporate America that is causing a stir.

Now, a real-life company has patented their creation and plans on manufacturing it. And Sam and Matt will be compensated for their work.

The experience began a year ago this month when Matt and Sam were in sixth grade. They were approached by Kirstin Jacobson, Sudlow’s TAG facilitator and Invent Iowa coordinator, who wanted them to come up with an idea for the competition.

Matt and Sam thought about it and eventually created what they call the Mega Melter.

“It kept snowing all winter and as we were thinking of an idea, we looked around and thought of this,” Matt said.

They took a small, plastic hand-held fertilizer spreader container and attached it to Sam’s parents’ Ariens snowblower. Other modifications were made through trial and error, they said.

Here is how it works: The container is filled with sidewalk salt used to melt ice on sidewalks and driveways. As the operator walks along clearing snow with the snowblower, he or she squeezes a bike brake handle attached to a bar of the snowblower. The handle releases the salt through an opening in the plastic spreader, allowing salt to fall to the ground. The device eliminates the need to go back over the same area to spread salt.

Photo by Quad-City Times.

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