Original story from WNYT Albany by Emily De Vito

Troy, NY – Three La Salle Institute middle school students are being recognized for their innovative inventions.

The head of the science department at La Salle Institute said he was looking for something the students could participate in amid the coronavirus pandemic.

He had middle school students enter the Western New York Invention Convention. That is when eighth grade twin brothers Brendan and Patrick McNaughton started to brainstorm and realized the lack of masks for people during the pandemic.

“They were running out of PPE really fast, so we decide to turn a tie into a mask,” explained Patrick.

Brendan and Patrick said they came up with the idea because they wear a necktie to school every day. They submitted a video for the virtual competition. They said it took two models to create their “TieMask.”

“The first one had a coffee filter,” said Patrick. “Then we did research, and we read an article by the Wall Street Journal and it said that swifter dusters were a lot more effective. They were six times more effective than a coffee filter, so we put that on the second model.”

Their idea won them first place in the Grade 4-8 category at the competition. They said despite virtual learning right now, they had the support they needed to create the “TieMask.”

“If we needed our teacher, then we could just call them or email them,” said Brendan.

Daniel Maloney, head of the science department at La Salle Institute, said classes at the school allowed Brendan and Patrick to bring the idea to fruition.

“Everything we do is hands on inquiry based,” said Maloney. “We want kids involved with not just studying concepts, but actually working on them, so if you’re doing Newton’s Laws, kids are doing rockets, doing roller coaster.”

Brendan and Patrick said the win at the competition made them proud, and they hope to one day see people donning their “TieMask.”

“One of our mom’s college roommates made one for her dad for Father’s Day, because he works in the city,” said Patrick.

The boys will now move on to the National Invention Convention and will get results from that in July.

Seventh grader Raffaele Lombardi won honorable mention at the competition for his “Handy-Sani Pen” that integrates hand sanitizer into a working pen.