Jeanne Sager | Democrat
TRUTH MULLER OF Rock Hill won first place in a national student contest run by the History Channel.
Truth Muller's thinkin' about Lincoln
By Dan Hust
ROCK HILL Truth Muller’s thoughts are worth a pretty penny these days.
At 9, the Rock Hill youth has already wowed the folks at Toshiba and the National Science Teachers Association with his inventions (garnering a national second place award last year in the prestigious ExploraVision contest).
Who knew you could top meeting Bill Nye the Science Guy and earning a $5,000 savings bond to put away for college, along with an all-expenses-paid trip to Washington, D.C.?
Because Muller’s latest conquest is a first place in yet another national contest.
And this time, they’re taking his knowledge all the way to the bank.
Muller has placed first in the History Channel’s Give a Lincoln for Lincoln Coin Box Contest.
Open to students across the country, the contest was held in conjunction with the National Park Service to commission designs for coin boxes that will be put out at Lincoln-related national parks.
In honor of what would have been the 16th president’s 200th birthday, the boxes will encourage visitors to pony up their pennies to preserve Lincoln’s legacy.
Muller’s design, packed into what he called “the biggest box I’ve ever seen,” was shipped off earlier this spring.
Using an encyclopedia laid out as an open book as a base, Muller built a log cabin as the coin receptacle itself. A stovepipe hat hung from the branch of a tree outside the house.
Along with dad Bob, who acts as his son’s homeschool teacher, Truth has spent the year studying up on Lincoln for the bicentennial.
Their homeschool received certification as a Lincoln Legacy School, and Bob has molded the stories of Lincoln to fit the different portions of Truth’s curriculum.
They’ve eaten Lincoln’s favorite meals, attended readings of Lincoln’s works at the New York Public Library (where Truth’s mom, Maura, works), and Truth practiced writing of his own as he penned an essay to accompany his mock-up of the coin bank on its trip to History Channel headquarters.
Among his favorite finds? Lincoln was homeschooled just like Truth. “That’s what really got him interested,” Bob said.
The elder Muller is proud of his son’s awards, but he’s prouder still that Truth stepped outside his comfort zone with this project.
“Science has always been a big deal for him,” Bob said. “But this has obviously taken hold, and he’s developed a real love of history.”
Said Truth, “One of my favorite subjects is history ... well, besides science and art!”
Truth’s project for ExploraVision was all about science he created an automatic pet door and tattoo pen. The pen shot metallic ink into the ear of the family cat, which triggered a sensor on the pet door to open and close.
He was inspired by watching the family cat go in and out all day long.
“The cat kind of didn’t know what to do with himself,” he explained. “And you had to dream up some kind of invention,you had to think of something useful not like a flying bench or something silly like that.”
But with Lincoln, Truth couldn’t stay inside his own head. He had to research, and he had to get familiar with a man who has been dead for well over a century.
“I knew he loved books,” Truth said of the encyclopedia base of his bank, “and I knew he lived in a log cabin.”
Of the stovepipe hat, he said. “I thought it brought it all together.”
It’s brought a 9-year-old from Rock Hill to the national forefront.
What’s next? That’s up to the next contest his mom finds on the Internet.