The Invention Convention Overview
Fostering the development of important science skills is an ongoing challenge. Students should be given opportunities to solve problems, think creatively, experiment, and work with data throughout the school year. The Invention Convention is an event that gives students an opportunity to demonstrate these skills independently as they invent a new product or process.
The Invention Convention can be a classroom, school, or districtwide science event. This science event is designed to encourage students to apply basic science skills in a creative and productive manner. Participants are encouraged to identify a need or to solve a problem by following the same steps and patent application procedures that an inventor would follow in patenting an invention. Once a need or a problem has been identified, students are directed to use problem-solving and creative-thinking skills to invent a product or process that would fill the need or overcome the problem. Communication and research skills are also greatly enhanced throughout the invention procedure. The suggested procedure for the Invention Convention involves the following five basic steps.
- STEP I: Learning About Inventors
- STEP II: Finding an Idea
- STEP III: Research and Planning
- STEP IV: Developing and Testing
- STEP V: The Invention Convention
STEP I: Learning About Inventors
In this step, students will learn about inventors and their inventions. The knowledge gained in this step will help students develop an appreciation for inventors and will help establish in them a positive attitude about the invention process. They will learn that successful inventors:
- Keep an open and curious mind about the world around them.
- Acquire as much information as possible about an idea, a problem, or a future invention before beginning to invent.
- Continually use trial and error as they engage in problem solving.
- Continually strive to improve upon an idea or design after finding a solution.
- Are dedicated, persistent, and most of all, optimistic about finding a solution.
Once students have learned about inventors and inventions, you may wish to have each student write a brief tribute to an inventor.
STEP II: Finding an Idea
Finding a need to fulfill or a problem to solve is the second step in the invention process. The invention may be a new product or it may be a new process for doing something.
STEP III: Research and Planning
Students should create detailed plans for their invention or process. In the plans the developmental steps are laid out, preliminary drawings may be made, time limits are established, materials are listed, and testing methods are defined. During the planning step, students must decide whether they will produce a small model or a full-size prototype of their invention. Students inventing a new process will want to develop an outline for their report.
STEP IV: Developing, Testing, and Marketing
In this step, students build their invention or develop their process. They will learn that plans need to be changed along the way and that trial and error is a part of the invention process. In addition, they will do appropriate testing and record any necessary data for their test report.
Once students have built their product or have developed their process, they will plan a strategy to market their invention. They will consider their potential customer and how best to convince that customer of the value of their idea. Students will write and design advertisements for newspapers, magazines, television, and the Internet.
The culmination of this step will be the completion of an application that makes the student eligible to take part in the Invention Convention. The application form has been modeled after the U.S. Patent Office form and should be "notarized" by the school principal.
STEP V: The Invention Convention
The Invention Convention is the event that students have been waiting for. It provides each qualifying student with an opportunity to display her or his project. On the designated date, students will bring their inventions to the selected convention site. Here the inventions will be officially judged, and awards will be presented. The Invention Convention will be open to the public, and students should be present to answer questions about their inventions.