8-year-old boy creates device for diabetics

MINNETONKA, Minn. - It's not unusual for a child's imagination to run wild, and when that happened at one local Minnetonka elementary school, it sparked others.

Dozens of students created their own inventions. It was all part of a month-long class assignment, but it was real life that prompted eight-year-old Elijah Zapzalka's invention.

The second grader is a Type 1 diabetic. He created a special syringe for diabetics who have to inject themselves with insulin multiple times per day. The syringe helps prevent a condition called lipohypertrophy.

"(That is) when you put insulin in the same spot over and over again and you get a big lump of scar tissue," little Elijah said pointing to examples on his display board.

"And to avoid that I made syringes."

"You have a plain syringe with a little piece of ink foam," he explained while holding his invention.

Elijah said after taking a shot of insulin the syringe "will leave a stamp and it will wear off after three days."

The stamp, which is created from the ink foam, lets the user know not to inject in the same spot repeatedly.

Elijah and his 19 classmates are part of program for gifted children called Navigators. It's offered through the Minnetonka School District.

Amanda Hultgren, who has a son in the class, was among the group of parents watching the students present their project.

She said when she was their age, her studies included "simple addition and reading chapter books."

"Most J-term projects that I know of are completed when you are in your college years. Undergraduate. This was a leap I thought for an 8 and 9 year old to be completing," she said.

As Elijah so humbly explained, he and his classmates needed a stronger push.

"We were getting all of our work done (quickly)," he said. "We had to move up grades so it would be harder for us and challenging for us to learn."

And Madison Andrews said her project was tough. The 9-year-old created an interactive American Girl Doll. The doll, which operates by an App she coded, is a great learning tool for children.

"I thought it would be fun if the doll talked with you like having a conversation back and forth," she said. "It has voice recognition."

For now, their projects are simply ideas on paper, but every invention started as an idea. It is possible their ideas will become real.

Elijah's wants to secure a patent for his creation, but he is still working out the details.


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