Jake Wulf wants to keep the lid on it. The 9-year-old boy flushed out a plan for a foot-activated toilet seat lifter that is called the "Privy Prop," designed to lower and raise the toilet seat.
While her son, who is in the school’s Talented and Gifted program, manages assignments with ease, he has one weak spot: remembering to lower the seat after he’s done, Beth Wulf said.
"My mom was getting mad at me for forgetting to put the toilet seat down and she was falling in," said Jake, a fourth-grader at Odebolt-Arthur Elementary School.
"He’s done this pretty much all his life," his mother said "He’s in too big a hurry to take care of that. He’s been reminded thousands of times over the years."
It was during a visit to a doctor’s office that Jake’s idea for the "Privy Prop" began to take shape.
He noticed the lid to a small trash can, which opened and closed with a foot-powered lever. He went home and told his parents that he wanted to design a similar device for the toilet.
He made it for the school’s Invention Convention with the help of his dad, Jason, who designs equipment for a living.
"Jake drew it all out and I supervised," Jason Wulf said. "I helped him with the tools to make sure he didn’t cut off any fingers."
Jake built plywood base and then cut thin pieces of steel and fashioned a teeter-totter at the bottom. You step on it and the seats raises. You step off and it closes.
Once it was built, he used a dictionary to come up with a name for his contraption. The final choices — "Jake’s John Jack" "Privy Prop" and "Privy Proper" — were voted on by his family with "Privy Prop" winning.
It was selected by judges at the Invention Convention to advance to the regional contest in Pocahontas, where it was chosen to be displayed at the Iowa State Fair this past summer.
Beth Wulf suspects that someone who saw the "Privy Prop" at the fair called the Ellen Degeneres show because one of the show’s producers contacted the family this fall asking for a tape with a description of her son’s invention.
Two weeks later, a producer called and invited Jake and a parent to fly to Hollywood as part of a show featuring young inventors.
The show was taped on Wednesday. It was to air on Friday.
So where does Jake’s project go from here?
He said his family has considered seeking a patent for it, but that might cost too much. There’s also a chance a national company might catch wind of it after Friday’s show.
One thing is for sure, the Wulf family won’t try to mass produce it.