Tag Archives: Nico Eisenberger

Penelope And Olivia: 4th Grade National Inventors

Alert “06880” reader Nico Eisenberger hesitated to write. 

“There are plenty of kids’ achievements to celebrate here in Westport in our highly competitive, educated, and uber-connected town (many of them much, much more noteworthy, some of them maybe a bit too competitive at times),” he said. 

Yet, he added:

I’ve just returned from the National Invention Convention & Entrepreneurs’ Exposition at the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan with my daughter Penelope. She is 10, and attends Greens Farms Elementary School.

She and Olivia Cohn were selected as national finalists in this international competition for inventors.

They both walked away with medals. Olivia took first for all 4th graders, and also received the “I See Her Invent” award from CA Technologies for her “Happy Ride” solution for rear seat car sickness.

Penelope took first in the “Invent Her Future Award” from the Society of Women Engineers for her “Retainer Container,” a tabletop retainer case disguised as an ordinary drinking glass coaster.

That means our Westport 4th graders were 2 of only 50 kids to receive national awards out of 108,000 inventor participants, representing 7 countries.

Penelope Eisenberger and Olivia Cohn, proudly wear their medals.

But that’s not what I am writing about.

Of the many wonderful things that came out of this experience, what stands out the most is the amount of support we all experienced from folks in Westport and neighboring towns.

Penelope’s retainer container, 3D-printed by Ethan Klein.

Beyond the countless teachers, fellow students, family members, local crafts people, shopkeepers and neighbors who helped both Olivia and Penelope develop and refine their invention (for no money in almost every instance), we also had some heartwarming competitor-to-competitor collaboration as well.

Penelope’s invention was significantly impacted by meeting Fairfield 9th grader, 3D printing expert and budding entrepreneur Ethan Klein at Westport’s Maker’s Fair this spring.

He showed her how to print her Retainer Container. Together they refined its shape and design.

He was so infected by her excitement about the invention process that he decided to compete in the contest himself. He too was selected as a national finalist, and won 2 prestigious awards.

Ethan Klein and Penelope Eisenberger

We also met a mother and daughter (Olivia Taylor) from Easton, who presented in the booth next to us. When we discovered 5 minutes before judging began that her presentation materials were missing key required information, they pulled out glue, cardboard and paper, and fixed her up a solution right there.

In addition, Neil Cohn and his family helped show us the way to secure a patent for Penelope’s invention.  We helped each other get to the national convention. There the girls were inseparable companions, as they navigated their way with 450 other smart and creative finalists of all shapes, sizes and ages.

This is all little stuff — one might even say stuff that should be ordinary human, neighborly decency. And it should.

But it stood out, at least for me, in our time of increasing atomization of communities, addiction to devices, political division, and get-ahead-at-all-cost-ism, that it was folks from Westport and neighboring towns who stood up when the need arose, and made this experience so special.

Mighty Oak

Alert “06880” reader Nico Eisenberger was saddened to see another large oak tree cut down earlier this month, near the Greens Farms train station.

(Photo/Nico Eisenberger)

(Photo/Nico Eisenberger)

He understands the “tree cutting frenzy” after recent hurricanes and windstorms.

But he wishes there was “transparency in who makes these decisions, and what the guidelines and objectives are.”

In recent days — as the stump and logs remain — he’s moved from sadness to anger. Why, he wonders, does Eversource (or the town) not conduct “prompt cleanup after they fell a once-beautiful, long-living thing?”

06838: The Sequel

Last March, alert “06880” reader and proud Green’s Farms resident Nico Eisenberger noted that his neighborhood post office — convenient, friendly, with plenty of parking (shhhh!) — bore an unfortunately dilapidated sign:

Greens Farms PO

He wondered what could be done.

It’s taken 11 months. You and I might think that’s 335 days. But in government terms, it’s warp speed.

Today, the Green’s Farms post office sports a spiffy new sign:

(Photo/Nico Eisenberger)

(Photo/Nico Eisenberger)

Best of all, it’s punctuated the correct — or, at least, official — way.

Westport Waves — From Burying Hill To Saugatuck Shores

There’s a lull in the storm right now. But if you haven’t been out and about, here are a few scenes from opposite ends of town. Click on or hover over photos to enlarge.

The gatehouse at Burying Hill Beach. (Photo/Nico Eisenberger)

The gatehouse at Burying Hill Beach. (Photo/Nico Eisenberger)

One view from atop the actual "Burying Hill"...

One view from atop the actual “Burying Hill”…

...and another. (Photos/Nico Eisenberger)

…and another. (Photos/Nico Eisenberger)

Not fit for man or beast? Photographer Nico Eisenberger -- and his dog Griffin -- beg to differ.

Not fit for man or beast? Photographer Nico Eisenberger — and his dog Griffin — beg to differ.

The Ned Dimes Marina at Compo Beach seems surprisingly calm, just before high tide. (Photo/Steve Axthelm)

The Ned Dimes Marina at Compo Beach seems surprisingly calm, just before high tide… (Photo/Steve Axthelm)

...but not so Compo Beach itself. (Photo/Steve Axthelm)

…but not so Compo Beach itself. (Photo/Steve Axthelm)

Here's the scene on Soundview Drive. (Photo/Steve Axthelm)

Here’s the scene on Soundview Drive. (Photo/Steve Axthelm)

See the water lapping against the white fence at the bottom of this photo? That shouldn't be there. It's Canal Road. (Photo/Mark Bates)

See the water lapping against the white fence at the bottom of this photo? That shouldn’t be there. It’s Canal Road. (Photo/Mark Bates)


Like many nearby residents, Nico Eisenberger appreciates the Greens Farms post office.

It’s convenient. It’s friendly. There’s always plenty of parking.

It’s a shame, Nico says, that the sign looks so dilapidated.

Greens Farms PO

He writes:

I don’t know the ways and means of helping a federal property, but if I were a more crafty carpenter and sign maker, I’d just do it in the middle of the night.  Maybe someone local could talk to them, and offer to make a new sign.

Nico’s right — that might run afoul of all kinds of regulations. But if anyone with sign-making talent wants to stop in to the post office and ask — well, there’s seldom any wait.

Cleanup Time!

It takes a government ban to produce a scene like this:

I-95 after snow - Nico Eisenberger

That’s a shot of I-95 without a car in sight. Nico Eisenberger went cross-country skiing at Sherwood Island, and enjoyed this view from the Beachside Avenue bridge.

A bit further east, Chip Stephens saw 25 or so trucks parked near the Athena Diner. From Texas.

Their drivers don’t have much to, other than laugh at us panic-stricken Easterners.

Tree crews -- Chip Stephens

Meanwhile, Mark Mathias cleared his driveway. We all know the Board of Ed member/Mini Maker Faire co-founder is an energetic guy, but this video will blow you away.

Just like the snow.

PS: Seems like every gas station on the Post Road is open. Every liquor store, too.