Gov. Dannel P. Malloy issued a challenge to a group of young inventors Wednesday—start thinking about energy now.

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Malloy told over 100 Connecticut students, grades three through eight, that the state is eagerly awaiting their future successes, especially if they involve efficient energy systems.

“We’re looking for some good energy ideas,” he told them, adding that he may create a special governor’s award for the student with the best idea.

Malloy was one of many elected officials to speak to the students, who gathered at the state capitol to show off their inventions for the 28th annual Connecticut Invention Convention.

He lauded the young inventors for challenging their minds and encouraged them to keep up the good work. He also encouraged the state’s future best and brightest minds to stick around.

“You live in a great state, which we’re in the process of reinventing,” he told them.

Malloy urged the students to attend college in Connecticut and then make careers here when they get older.

Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman also seemed impressed with the inventors and told them they are the state’s future. Wyman also asked if any wanted to become lieutenant governor one day. The inventors responded with silence, which made her laugh.

“Where were you when I decided I wanted to do this?” she asked them.

Future executives or not, Wyman said they brought plenty of inventions she could use around her house, including an environmentally safe snow-melting shovel. And there were invention exhibits packed into the capitol lobby, the underground causeway and the Legislative Office Building.

One inventor, 13-year-old Kenny Finnegan brought a device he hoped would help protect police officers when they work on the side of roads. Young Finnegan, a one year veteran of the Waterbury Police Explorers, said he it was the death of state Trooper Kenneth Hall in September that got him thinking about the device.

Hall was killed after he was hit by a vehicle on Interstate-91. The invention, called the Finneken Protector, senses moving vehicles nearby and alerts the officer by beeping and flashing a red light.

Finnegan, a sixth-grader at Wallace Middle School, said he hopes it can save some lives.

Johnich Gomez, another young inventor, said it was the inconvenience of standing in the rain trying to protect her laptop that got her creative gears turning. Gomez, a sixth-grader from Meriden, came up with the Umbrella Backpack.

The device simply clips on to a backpack and shields both the bag and the wearer from the rain. Gomez said it also frees up the user’s hands, which sometimes get cold holding an umbrella.  The Thomas Edison Middle School student said she hasn’t tested the backpack umbrella yet because she wanted it to be in perfect shape for her exhibit but she’s looking forward to testing it next time it rains.

Porter Brasell, another sixth-grader at Thomas Edison, also came to the Capitol with an invention he wasn’t shy about promoting. The Disposable Shoe Mop can help you clean up “dust, dirt and everything nasty that begins with ‘D,’” he said.

The shoe mop is essentially a pair of slippers with a disposable cleaning rag fixed to its soles. Brasell said he had originally wanted to call the device the “Swiffer Slipper” but was informed he could have been sued as a result.

Though the shoe mop enables the wearer to clean up while simply moving around the house, its creator admitted the design has some drawbacks. For a large room, Brasell said the user may have to replace the cleaning sheet more than once. But one must also exercise caution while wearing the shoe mop. It’s fairly easy to slip, he said.