The Valero Meraux Refinery in Louisiana sponsors an annual “Invention Convention," a competition among fifth-graders who invent new items or improve upon existing ones to solve real-life problems.

The fifth-annual Valero Meraux Invention Convention earlier this year attracted approximately 700 students from eight different schools in St. Bernard Parish. The event is in keeping with Valero's support of education, including STEM-related activities.

The winning entries ranged from “Angel Gloves & Buddy Bats," with special gloves to help children with disabilities hold onto their bats in playing T-ball, to “Forget Me Not," an electronic display board to help keep track of household chores – red lights for chores to do, and green for those accomplished. Another one, called “Grocery Getter," was a modified scooter with handles that assist in carrying groceries.

Many of the inventions had to do with improving the ability to do chores or dispensing or organizing items.

“We are pleased to sponsor the 'Invention Convention' program for the youth of our parish again this year," said Leslie Sullivan, Vice President and General Manager of the Meraux refinery. “Valero is a strong advocate of education and contributes to programs, agencies and organizations that share the same focus."

Valero not only funds the program but provides volunteers who serve as judges. Others from the community also supported the event or volunteered their time, including representatives of local schools and businesses.

“Every year we continue to see new and innovative ideas from these fifth-graders," said Mariana Williamson, Superintendent-Turnaround Planning at the Meraux refinery, and Invention Convention Coordinator. “They continue to amaze us with their creativity and problem-solving."