Maxx Davis, 12, poses with his invention. The Ceiba Academy student is headed to the national Invention Convention competition in Michigan. —Johanna Miller/The Pajaronian

WATSONVILLE—A sixth-grader from Ceiba College Preparatory Academy in Watsonville will soon be heading across the country to participate in Invention Convention Worldwide’s national competition.

Maxx Davis, 12, was selected to be one of 550 students across the United States to display his invention at the Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation in Dearborn, Mich. His invention will sit alongside those by world-renowned inventors such as Henry Ford, the Wright brothers and Thomas Edison, from May 29 to June 3.

“I’m both excited and nervous,” Maxx said. “I’m going to go on a plane and out of the state … I’ve only been to Mexico before. I’ll be showing my invention to lots of people. But I’m really excited.”

Maxx’s invention, dubbed the S.S. Wall-E, is geared to cleaning up ocean pollution. His design focuses on using budget-friendly, scalable, and easy-to-build components that can be used independently or attached to a boat. The device includes a net to capture floating trash on the surface, a magnet to retrieve metals from the ocean floor, and a claw. 

Maxx said he was inspired to make the invention because of his love and appreciation for the ocean and its wildlife.

“The ocean is just something I’ve always wanted to protect,” he said. “It’s a beautiful place and I hope other people can see how beautiful it is. When I saw it with trash, I just really didn’t like it. So I decided to help protect it.”

The S.S. Wall-E has gone through a lot of challenges, Maxx admitted.

“At first I had a different idea of having a machine that went underwater to grab trash,” he said. “But it just didn’t really work out, and I didn’t have the materials.”

Eventually, after brainstorming with family and spending many afternoons at the City of Watsonville’s Environmental Science Workshop, the final S.S. Wall-E prototype was complete. 

Crystal Rodriguez, Maxx’s mother, said she was impressed at her son’s hard work.

“Seeing him problem-solve different issues… I could see him in his room, trying to figure things out,” she said. “He worked and worked. He was in the zone. It was so cool watching that process, of him taking the reins and doing it on his own.”

This year was Maxx’s first at Ceiba, a 6th-12th grade institution which aims to prepare low-income students in rural communities to attend and graduate from four-year universities. Science teacher Athena Raney said that the Invention Convention is usually the first time Ceiba students will do presentations, and often the first experience they have in creating something entirely from their own ideas. 

Raney praised Maxx for his ingenuity, creativity and drive.

“You’ve gone through the local Invention Convention, the state convention and now, you’re going to nationals,” she told him. “That doesn’t happen often here. Not a lot of students from our community get to this point, but you did. It’s incredible.”

Rodriguez also took a moment to address her son. 

“We are ecstatic that you’re able to have this opportunity, to go and represent not only your school, but your state,” she said. “That’s amazing. I’m so excited to see what’s next for you.”

Maxx’s family has launched a GoFundMe to help cover travel expenses and any last-minute repairs to the invention. Rodriguez said they aim to raise $5,000 so that her parents can accompany them to the event.

“We’re hoping they can come, because they have been very supportive and helpful for Maxx,” she said. “My dad, he loves things like this. So it would mean a lot for them to come along.”

Click here to donate to Maxx’s GoFundMe.

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Reporter Johanna Miller grew up in Watsonville, attending local public schools and Cabrillo College before transferring to Pacific University Oregon to study Literature. She covers arts and culture, business, nonprofits and agriculture.


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