Zane: Inventor, scientist, 9-year-old

I’d like to tell you about an invention. It’s called the Inkstop Mk1, and it was awarded second place at the Invention Convention last year. This device can be used by law enforcement to stop fleeing vehicles, ideally in a safer manner than (or in conjunction with) existing methods. And that’s all I can tell you — the 9-year-old inventor is still hoping to patent and even produce this device one day, so I’m not at liberty to divulge any of the specifics.

This might feel like hyperbole, but Zane Demangone is honestly not your average elementary school kid. At the time of this writing, he’s attending this year’s version of the Invention Convention with another strong submission: a method to clear ice or snow off of satellite dishes. His mother, Misty, remembers an inquisitive nature and thirst for knowledge almost from birth.

“I’ve never seen a child ask questions like he did,” she explained. “He has always wanted to know how everything works and why.”

Zane simulation modeling

Zane at play in front of a simulation model.

His discovery of science can be traced to a gift of Theodore Gray’s “The Elements” when Zane was around five years old. Subsequent Christmas and birthday lists reflected this passion, and the learning heightened when he began to read. Zane is self-motivated to learning about the subjects that resonate with him — Misty is just trying to keep up and not hold him back.

That particular job comes with some interesting requests. Misty remembers a time when her son asked permission to make fiberglass from the sand in his sandbox (the melting process requires temperatures over 2000°F). He’s also asked to build a smelter in the backyard, a rocket in the basement, and even tried dabbling in free college courses through an app called Coursera. Not surprisingly, Zane is now home schooled by his mother while also attending a gifted program at the local elementary school to accelerate his studies.

So what sort of wishes and daydreams might a precocious and intelligent child have? He would love to tour a nuclear reactor, which might have to wait until he has the proper education and security clearance. He wants to be a research professor… or a lawyer… or a nuclear physicist… or maybe an inventor. He also wants to visit UC Berkeley in California, his preferred college choice despite its location on the opposite coast.

“Zane doesn’t want a normal childhood,” his father always says. “He wants to be an adult.” According to Misty, her son often says something along the same lines: “Life unlocks at 18!”

As for his inventive streak, the Inkstop Mk1 is what brought Zane into contact with FlexSim. He wasn’t content with just inventing something — he wanted to produce it, or at least pry into the associated manufacturing process. Zane researched the software that could do such a task, downloaded an evaluation copy of FlexSim, and began adding more knowledge to his sizeable piggy bank of experiences.

Keep a scholarship waiting in 2023, Berkeley.

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