Set aside several minutes to introduce the concepts and procedures involved in the Invention Convention. Approach the subject with contagious enthusiasm. Let students know that this will be the special science event of the school year. Begin by discussing inventions with which the children are familiar, such as cars, appliances, tools, and games, or toys. Ask: How did people see in the dark before there were candles? Did people always use cars to go from one place to another? Did people always have television to watch? Did people always have computers? For each invention you discuss, have the students offer reasons for what prompted the inventor to create his or her invention.
It might be beneficial to show pictures or drawings of unusual inventions. Click here to see some very unusual real inventions. Share these with your students. Then share with your students these excellent resources on inventions and inventors (see Resources). It is important that students realize that inventors have invented some preposterous things. Take your students to the Wacky Patent of the Month to see some crazy inventions that have been patented.
Students should also realize that not every invention is a product. A process or better way of doing something can also be invented.
You might wish to have students write a brief tribute about an inventor or an invention they find inspiring. This report will become part of the student's completed project.
Point out that new inventions come from people looking for a new and better way of doing something. Help students to realize that they can change products as well as processes. Ask students to name changes they would like to make.
To spark ideas for inventions, use examples from the Examples of Student Inventions list.
Once you have set the stage, review the five-step process with the students. This can best be done by handing out the Invention Convention Steps for Students copy master (see Steps for Students (Grades 1 - 3) or Steps for Students (Grades 4 - 6). This is also a good time to have students take home the Parent's Letter (see Parent's Letter).