- Associated Press - Sunday, November 2, 2014

MINOT, N.D. (AP) - Joshua Boen’s Marketplace for Kids invention was so impressive that he was recently asked to present it to a panel at Microsoft in Fargo.

Josh, a sixth-grader at Jim Hill Middle School, first came up with the idea for his iCoach app as a solution to the frustrations of his swim coach, Emily Weeks, the Minot Daily News (http://bit.ly/1t9Gv6j ) reported.

One day Weeks lamented that she wished she had a walkie-talkie so she could instruct each of her swimmers while they were still in the water, instead of waiting for them to emerge from the pool or stop in the middle of the swimming lane.

Josh’s solution? A wireless earpiece and an application for a smartphone. The iCoach program would communicate via Bluetooth technology between a phone and the athlete’s earpiece.

“You can pair it with WiFi and Bluetooth,” said Josh.

Josh thought the app could give his coach the flexibility to communicate with all of her athletes at once or with each athlete individually. On her phone, a list of the swimmers would appear with the app, enabling her to select one name or all.

“I discussed this application with other swimmers and friends who added requests such as, ‘Can Coach tell me my splits during a race?’ ‘Can Coach allow our coach to talk to all of us at the same time?’, ‘Can Coach work for other sports?’ The answer to these questions is yes!” Josh said.

Josh also said he has given a lot of thought to waterproofing the earpiece.

“The earpiece will have a waterproof casing (made of a material similar to a swim cap) that fits over the earpiece,” according to Josh. “Water leaking through to the earpiece is going to always be a concern. In order to overcome this, the waterproof casing will need to be replaced on a regular basis.”

Josh, the son of Ryon and Kristen Boen of Minot, first came up with his project as a fifth-grader at Edison Elementary, where Weeks was also his fifth-grade teacher.

Weeks said all fifth-graders at the school come up with their own ideas for inventions for the annual Marketplace for Kids showcase held in the spring in Minot.

Josh also presented his project during the Marketplace for Kids Bright Ideas Showcase and Contest held this summer at the North Dakota State Fair. His project won first place in the technology category for fifth-graders, as well as the prize for most creative project and innovation in sports.

While Josh doesn’t know what will happen after presenting the project to people at Microsoft, his mother said just being invited to give the presentation will be quite an experience for Josh.

Weeks said Josh’s achievement is unusual.

“This is the furthest I’ve ever had a student go,” said Weeks.

And, though she has only been teaching for four years, Weeks said teachers from the gifted education department in the school district said it is extremely rare for a child to be invited to present his Marketplace for Kids invention to a business.

Weeks thought the iCoach app was a fantastic idea when Josh first presented it to her and, more importantly, a very practical idea.

In the crowded six-lane swimming pool at Minot State, there can be up to 50 kids in the water at a time, she said. An app that would let her talk to kids while they are still in the water would enable her to coach a child to change the way he or she is doing a stroke while the child is still doing it. Right now, Weeks has to wait until a swimmer has been doing a stroke incorrectly for a whole length or get his attention and stop him in the middle of the swimming lane, holding other swimmers up.

Weeks said Josh is a smart, nice kid and a “very out-of-the-box thinker.” Marketplace for Kids is a program that gives many kids a chance to come up with creative inventions, she said.

Josh also thinks his iCoach app would work for coaches in other sports, like hockey or cross-country.

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Information from: Minot Daily News, http://www.minotdailynews.com

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