The DNAinfo archives brought to you by WNYC.
Read the press release here.

Portage Park Elementary Inventors Fundraise To Get to National Competition

 The five students from Portage Park Elementary are less than $1,000 away from raising enough money to go to a national invention competition.
The five students from Portage Park Elementary are less than $1,000 away from raising enough money to go to a national invention competition.
View Full Caption
Portage Park Elementary School

PORTAGE PARK — After sweeping the prizes in the Chicago Student Invention Competition, less than $1,000 stands between five students from Portage Park Elementary School being able to travel to the national tournament.

Natalie Correa, Charlotte Hastings, Victoria Quiroga, Emily Curiel and Anahi Mendoza won every prize in the fourth-grade competition, taking home the first-, second- and third-place prizes as well as honorable mention at the April 2 competition designed to encourage students to use their imaginations to solve common problems.

But the cost for all five girls to attend the National Invention Convention and Entrepreneurship Exposition taking place in Washington, D.C. May 19-21 is $9,000 — a bill that Portage Park Elementary School, 5330 W. Berteau Ave., can't pick up as its budget has been slashed twice this year, officials said.

An online fundraising campaign started by teacher Pamela Nicandro-Osorio was less than a $1,000 from its goal Tuesday afternoon, six days after it was launched. The money has to be in place by May 1, according to teachers.

"Without funding, these girls will miss out on an experience that will empower them as learners, instill confidence, and teach them life-long critical problem-solving skills that will help them to succeed in America’s future workforce," Nicandro-Osorio wrote to encourage donations.

All five of the girls are on the neighborhood school's honor roll, teachers said. They designed, built and demonstrated their inventions.

Natalie's invention of a hands-free umbrella won first place in the fourth-grade competition, officials said. She told contest organizers she came up with the idea after walking her dog after school and getting soaked because she couldn't hold the leash, her school bags and an umbrella.

Charlotte invented a boot dryer after her little brothers drove her mother crazy by walking in their muddy boots all over the house.

Victoria, who suffers from breathing problems, invented a way to automatically prop up a pillow and help her breathe easy.

Emily and Anahi worked together to invent the Miss Buttery Stick, which earned them honorable mention. The invention makes it easier for restaurant workers — like Emily's parents — to put butter on pancakes or waffles.

For more information, go to gofundme.com/ppesgirlinventors.

For more neighborhood news, listen to DNAinfo Radio here: