Academy of Applied Science
Young Inventors Program
COMPONENTS of the YOUNG INVENTORS PROGRAM
There are three components to the Young Inventors' Program: a teacher workshop, local school programs, and a regional or statewide celebration. While it is not necessary to participate in all elements, a classroom or state wide "Invention Celebration" is a rewarding culmination activity. It can be as simple or as elaborate as your time allows.
An Annual Teacher workshop provides hands-on experience and training to assist teachers in implementing creative thinking and problem solving activities in their classrooms. This is accompanied by Meant to Invent! Teacher's Guide and accompanying Student Handbook. This guide, written by experienced educators, combines the concept of inventing with the process of creative thinking, critical thinking and creative problem solving. It helps teachers provide experiences and activities designed to bring the learner in touch with the learning process.
The teacher training component of Young Inventors is extremely important as teachers strive on a day-to-day basis to motivate and inspire students.
Local annual school programs provide over 5,000 New Hampshire students with the opportunity to participate in Young Inventors. Each student identifies a problem to be solved and goes about solving it. These programs help students develop the essential skills of logical thinking, creative problem solving, intellectual risk taking and communication.
The statewide Invention Celebration each May gives students the opportunity to share their creativity with their peers from around the state and receive recognition for their efforts.
HOW IT WORKS
The following material is taken from Meant to Invent! Teacher's Guide, written by a consortium of master educators involved in the New Hampshire Young Inventors' Program (NHYIP). NHYIP was identified as a Program of Excellence by the Regional Educational Laboratories and is listed in Promising Practices in Mathematics & Science Education . Additionally, this consortium is the recipient of the 1996 Donald J. Quigg Excellence in Education Award. In conjunction with Patent and Trademark Office's Project XL, this annual award recognizes the efforts of an individual or group to promote the teaching of higher order thinking at all levels of the curricula. ?
Thinking Skills Activities
To encourage creative and productive thinking, start working with some creative thinking processes, including brainstorming, SCAMPER, FFOE, and Creative Problem Solving. Decide how much time you can devote to this area, keeping in mind that these thinking skills can be used with other subject matter.
The Invention Process
Now that your students are familiar with ways to think creatively, they are ready to begin inventing. Student inventors may wish to work in teams (two students per team is ideal.) Students, especially young students, may "reinvent the wheel" unknowingly. If this happens that's fine. The process of invention is by far the more important goal. You can encourage older students to conduct product research to determine if their inventions are original. By stressing and encouraging simplicity, your students will see the process as fun, rather than intimidating.
The invention unit can be used in a number of ways and through numerous disciplines. It can be done as an after-school activity, as an integrated classroom activity, or as a science project. It is up to you how you wish to proceed. Inventing does take time. It is strongly suggested that six weeks (minimum) be allowed for the incubation of ideas, experimentation with form and process, and revision of plans and outcomes. A possible timeline, taken from Meant to Invent! Teacher Guide , might look something like this:
Weeks One and Two
Develop creative and thinking skills.
Center class activities and discussion around inventors and the concepts of invention and
Identify problems that may be solved with an invention.
Brainstorm possible solutions.
Start to make plans.
Establish classroom work groups.
Make a working model of invention.
Select a name for invention.
Introduce concepts of marketing.
Introduce concepts of patents and how they work.
While the students progress with their ideas, your major function as teacher is to provide encouragement and show a continuing lively interest. A classroom "Invention Celebration" is a rewarding culmination activity. It can be as simple or as elaborate as your time allows.