Sixth-grader invents forest fire prevention device

Kai Hatten’s grandparents watched their Garden Valley cabin burn up in flames. A houseguest left hot coals in the fire pit and the fire spread outside of the pit and to the cabin. The family tragedy sparked Hatten’s idea to invent an award-winning fire extinguisher built for outdoor fire pits.

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Kai’s grandparents Garden Valley cabin on fire in 2000.

“Anytime I’m near a fire pit, I make sure it’s out completely,” said the 11-year-old Boise student.

Kai’s invention is made of three parts — a tube, a fire extinguisher and heat detectors. The device is placed around the fire. If the fire spreads, the device will sense the heat and extinguish the fire.

“This is a quick and easy solution to prevent forest fires and save both animals and human lives,” Kai said.

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The White Pine Elementary School sixth-grader earned top honors for his invention. Kai was named Grand Champion of the 2016 National I Cubed Challenge Science Competition and won first place at the 2016 Invent Idaho competition. Kai represented Idaho at the National Invention Convention, where nearly 240 students participated.

“Kai is one of those students you know is going to be a positive influence on the world,” said Kristy Garrett, Kai’s fifth-grade teacher. “Instead of just recognizing a problem, he used his intelligence, compassion and perseverance to find a potential solution.”

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His invention, which cost $25 to create, is not on store shelves. He only made one, it isn’t yet fully functioning and he doesn’t have a patent.

“I hope in the future to get a patent,” Kai said. “Patent attorneys are expensive.”

Kai is a student in Boise’s Gifted And Talented program and he’s taking junior high level math courses. The straight A student will enroll at Treasure Valley Math and Science Center next year.

“I’m most proud of Kai for coming up with this idea on his own,” said Katy Hatten, Kai’s mom. “He did all the research.”

The 11-year-old hopes to get a soccer scholarship to Stanford University where he would like to study engineering. He has already toured the campus.