The senior project is a common feature at American High School’s – like a science fair but broader and your graduation depends upon it.

At tiny Sanborn Central School, seniors are obligated to come up with one such project. It’s graded as if it were a class unto itself, and each student works on it independently, with perhaps a teacher mentor, perhaps not. The project involves four parts – a research paper, developing and completing the project itself, a portfolio illustrating their progress from conception to completion, and a presentation to a panel of judges. They’re expected to send at least fifty hours on the matter, often more.

Senior Dillon Moore was casting around for a concept for his project when he found inspiration right at home – in a boulder that has deviled the family farm for decades.

The boulder in question has a thorn in the side of Moore’s grandpa as long as he’s owned the farm. Huge and well-bedded in hard soil, it refused to be moved even by three tractors chained together to pull it. So Moore bent his mind to the problem, and designed an attachment for a tractor loader to get a better grip and so defeat the stubborn thing.

His invention, which he’s titled the Rockmaster, is a two-part hydraulic bucket with teeth.

“The yellow part is stationary; it doesn’t move,” said Dillon of the two heavy central tines. “The black part all folds up and pretty much you can dig out big rocks.

“It doesn’t put as much stress on your loader trying to shove the whole bucket in there,” Moore said of digging up rocks and tree stumps. “And then you just fold it down and pick up all your rocks, and this lets the dirt fall through along with the rocks that are smaller.”

It’s a simple device, if hard to describe, and is quick and easy to attach or remove from the tractor.

Moore spent about $2000 building and painting his prototype, and after a little more tweaking, plans to put the Rockmaster on the market for $8000 each. At 18 and not yet graduated, he’s looking for a company to buy or lease the patent.

From student to inventor and entrepreneur in one step, Dillon Moore is precisely what these senior projects are intended to inspire.