The Invention Convention
Steps for Students

Grades 4-6

Step 1: Learning About Inventors
Step 1: Learn About Inventors The first step in becoming an inventor is to learn all that you can about inventors and their inventions. You will discover how and why certain products were invented. Did you ever wonder why the safety pin was invented? Or how toothpaste was packaged before it was put into tubes? And how about mousetraps? Did you ever think about how many different types have been invented? In reading about inventors, you will learn that their inventions were made to fill a need. You will also learn that successful inventors:

  * Keep an open and curious mind. They are always looking for a better way to do things, and they do not resist change.  
  * Gather as much information as they can about an idea before they begin to invent.  
  * Keep trying to find a solution to their problem. They go through a lot of trial and error as they seek a solution. They do not give up.  
  * Continue to improve their products.  

You should complete your study of inventors and inventions by writing a paper on an inventor that you have found inspiring. Title your paper "Tribute to an Inventor."

Step 2: Find an Idea

Step 2: Finding an Idea
It can be said that need is the mother of invention. Your idea for an invention will come from something that you or someone you know needs.

There are several ways to find ideas for inventions. One way is to ask people if there is anything they need. Another method is called brainstorming. You can brainstorm alone or with others. Here is an example of how brainstorming works. Name an object such as a lunch box. Take ten minutes to list everything you can that is wrong with lunch boxes. Next, find a way to correct some of the problems. Your ideas for solving the problems can be a big step toward inventing a new or improved product.

Keep in mind that your invention does not have to be a product. Instead, it can be a process for doing something. For example, it may be a better way of memorizing a list of objects, or a new card game.

When you find an idea you like and you want to make it into an invention, ask your teacher for an Intent to Invent form. Fill it out, have your parent sign it, and then return it to your teacher.

Step 3: Research and Planning

Step 3: Research and Planning
Before an invention can be successful, you have to make a plan. Your plan should include all the steps you can think of, from beginning to end. When writing your plan, ask yourself questions such as these:

  • What can I read about that will help me with my invention?
  • Whom can I talk to about solving problems and planning properly?
  • What materials will I need?
  • How can I control the cost of my invention?
  • What steps should I follow?
  • How much time should I allow for each step?
  • How can I test my invention?
  • How can I be sure my invention is safe to use?
Don't be surprised if you have to change your plans along the way. Sometimes a plan will not work as well as you first thought it would. So keep an open mind for change. You may even discover a better way of completing a certain step.

Step 4: Developing and Testing

Step 4: Developing, Testing, and Displaying
Now the work begins. Follow your plan step by step. If you have difficulty with a certain part of your invention, talk to an expert. Try different things until you overcome the difficulty. Most of all, don't give up! As Henry Ford, one of the inventors of the automobile, once said, "Failure is only an opportunity to start again more intelligently."

If your invention is a new way to do something, describe your process in a written report. Give all the important details of your process. To show that your idea works, you should test it. The results of your test should be written into your report.

When you are finished with your invention, ask your teacher for a Patent Application. Fill out the application and have your teacher and principal sign it. You are now ready to attend the Invention Convention.

Be sure to make plans for displaying your invention. An attractive display is important. You will want people to be attracted to your invention. A good promotion plan should include posters or other eye-catching materials. Remember, an inventor has to sell people on her or his product or process. You may also wish to design packaging for your invention and to write an advertisement for it. You will be judged on how well you promote your invention.

Step 5: Attending the Invention Convention

Step 5: Attending the Invention Convention
Before attending the Invention Convention, you will be given a number and a place to display your invention. When you set up your display, include all reports, test results, and your "Tribute to an Inventor" paper.

You will be talking to judges about your work, and later you will be showing your invention to visitors. Try to convince the judges that the world needs what you have invented. If you think a judge is missing the point of your invention or is not asking the right questions, speak up. Sometimes new ideas take a while to catch on.

The judges will judge your invention, your knowledge of it, and the way you have promoted it. Awards will then be given.

Enjoy the convention! Try to visit the other inventors to see and admire their work. Keep an open mind and be positive. Be proud! You are a scientific problem solver.

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