Timeline

  • green_light

    01/17

    Official Start

  • red_light

    03/27

    Submission Deadline

  • blue-ribbon

    04/24

    Winners Announced

  • star

    05/04

    ePals Choice Winner Announced

Start

Final Tips from a Judge: Sell It

tricia_edwards
This Week’s Tips from Ms. Edwards:

Sell It – Once you have your final invention idea, you want people to start using it! How will you convince others to use your invention? Design an ad or commercial to sell it. What problem does your invention solve? How is it different from other inventions? Who should use it? Answer these questions to explain why your invention is best!

ExploreIt07

Past submitters have shared how they will sell their invention with video commercials, print ads or even just a well-thought out list of marketing ideas.

Got a question or comment for Ms. Edwards? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below!

Start

More Tips from a Judge: Try It and Tweak It

tricia_edwards
This Week’s Tips from Ms. Edwards:

Try It – Once you’ve got a model, it’s time to test it out. You can try it out first, but then you’ll want to have others test it too. Ask friends, teachers, parents, and neighbors to try your invention. What do they like? What suggestions do they have for making it better? Be sure to write down what they say about your invention so you have good notes for the next step of the process.

ExploreIt05

Past young inventors have shared their “try it” results as data tables, quotes from testers/interviews and even as videos of the testing process. In your presentation, show that you put time into testing what you created and having others give feedback too.

Tweak It – Using the feedback you got from the Try it step, identify ways you can improve your invention. Do you want to modify the design or change the materials it’s made from? Do you want to add a new part to your invention, or take something away to make it simpler? Many inventors try and tweak and then try again to keep improving their idea until they get it just the way the want it!

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Like this entry, be specific about how your “try it” feedback links to your tweaks. Tell (or show) exactly what you are changing and why!

Got a question or comment for Ms. Edwards? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below!

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More Tips from a Judge: Sketch It and Create It

tricia_edwards
This Week’s Tips from Ms. Edwards:


Sketch It – Once you have a basic concept of what your invention will be, make some simple sketches of your idea. These do not have to be perfect or artistic. Sketches simply help you take the idea in your head and put it on paper. Sketches can help you think through not only what your invention will look like, but how it will work. You may want to make several sketches of your invention – from the front, side, looking down from above, or from the inside to show how it works. Be sure to label your sketches to explain how the various parts and pieces function.

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Past winners have sketched by hand or with computer assistance. Either way is great! Just make sure you label and give different perspectives of your invention!

Create It – For many inventors, this is the most fun part of the invention process! This is where you create a prototype, or model, of your invention. Using your sketches as a guide, you’ll build your first prototype. Remember, this doesn’t have to be perfect or even work! It’s just the next step in the process and allows you to take your concept and put it into three-dimensional form. To build your model, try to use materials that you already have. Items from your recycling bin and scraps from other projects can be great resources.

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Have fun building your invention. Take lots of photos to share with the judges. And remember, it doesn’t have to work but it should give the judges a 3D idea of the size and function of your invention!

Got a question or comment for Ms. Edwards? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below!

Start

Tips from a Judge!

tricia_edwards
Meet Tricia Edwards!

Tricia Edwards is a judge of the 2015 Invent It Challenge and she’s here to help YOU with your Invention Process and Challenge Entry.

Ms. Edwards is the Head of Education for the Smithsonian’s Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation and she develops programs such as Spark!Lab, an invention lab for children and families located at the National Museum of American History in Washington, DC.

Ms. Edwards believes that everyone is inventive, and that each of us has the skills and abilities to solve problems, face challenges, and develop creative solutions!

Each week we’ll post tips for two of the Invention Steps from Ms. Edwards.

This Week’s Tips:

Think It – This is when you need to identify the problem you want to solve. (This is sometimes the hardest step in the invention process!) Look around you – what problems exist at home, at school, or in your neighborhood? Talk to your friends and parents to see what frustrates them, and look at your local newspaper to learn about the issues and problems that people in your community are talking about. The best invention ideas often address problems that affect lots of people.


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ThinkIt_02

One of last year’s winners identified the problem of ticks causing Lyme’s disease in dogs. The problem was personal since the student’s own dog got Lyme’s disease from a tick. Her entry told her story and gave background information about the disease and why it’s important for people to protect their dogs from this disease.

Explore It – If you’ve identified a problem that affects many people around you, you’re probably not the first inventor to try to solve it! Don’t let this discourage you. Instead, do some research to learn how others have solved the problem. What do you like about their solutions? What do you think you can improve? And most importantly, how can your invention be different? Many inventions build and improve on ones that have come before.


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In the “Explore It’ step, this student explored past inventions for preventing and removing ticks from dogs. She points out two ways her invention can improve upon and be different than past inventions!

Got a question or comment for Ms. Edwards? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below!

Start

Top 10 Things Successful Inventors Do

Successful inventors often have their own style or way of doing things. I have listed ten things I have seen over the years that I think are common for successful inventors. See if you can learn from any, or all of them.


1 See things differently.

FML Glasses
FML Glasses
by Wen Jun, Sarah, Wilson, and Raymond
Invent It Challenge 2012-2013

Inventors develop the knack of looking at the world and their immediate surroundings in different ways. It’s a skill that anyone can learn. I will help you with 'tips and tricks' on how to see the world differently throughout this challenge.


2 Have a process.

World Map
World Map

Inventors need a good process to know if they are on track. Treat it like a map of how to get from point A to point B and check-in regularly to see how far you have come, or to ask for help if you are lost. It also helps you estimate how far you are from the end.


3 Find good sounding boards.

ALJASRY Cooperation Kite
ALJASRY Cooperation Kite
by Ryan, Isabella, Jasmine, and Alyssa
Invent It Challenge 2012-2013

I was very lucky to invent with a group of people that wanted to make things easier to use. That was our key thought. To make good things better. We were always bouncing ideas off of each other. If you work alone, find someone to listen to you talk through all your new ideas. TIP: Pick a good listener and not a talker!


4 Brainstorm.

Pencil Brush
Pencil Brush Z
by Raquel
Invent It Challenge 2012-2013

This is a very powerful way for inventors to think of new ideas. Pick a subject or problem. Set a time limit — 15 minutes is good. Throw out ideas like a crazy person. Remember, it's very important not to criticize any idea. No matter how tempted you might be. Take notes in a way that everyone can see them. E.g. whiteboard, flip chart, big screen, post it notes (one per idea) spread out on a table. Maybe use the camera on your phone to capture the final picture board. That’s it. Simple huh?.


5 Make Rapid Prototypes.

Slippers
Slippers "Sunshine"
by Melis
Invent It Challenge 2012-2013

Inventors make simple models as soon as they have a good idea. It's a great way to see if the invention works in the way you imagined. Sometimes we have to go back to our brainstorm notes and fall in love with our second best idea. Test that too. Then ask yourself, can anything in my design be combined, reduced or eliminated to make it faster, stronger, cheaper, safer, better or easier to use?


6 Surround themselves with curious things.

Fantastic Camera Messenger
Fantastic Camera Messenger
by Lucas, Brandon, Madison
Invent It Challenge 2012-2013

This may seem a little whacky, but it works. Inventors often surround themselves with curious objects when they are inventing. e.g. lego bricks, slinkies, silly putty, rubber bands, paper clips, magnets, Velcro, rubber balls, etc. Pick them up and play with them as you are thinking of cool ideas. Try it — it works.


7 Ask questions — a lot.

Amazing Super Growing PlantFood Invention
Amazing Super Growing PlantFood Invention
by Sophie, Henry, Jacob, Chase
Invent It Challenge 2012-2013

When I was young, my friends knew me as 'Question Boy'. Remember Kipling’s six wise men: What? where?, why?, who?, how? and when? Stay curious and don’t feel like you have to accept the first answer either.


8 Never be satisfied.

>Refugee Travois
Refugee Travois: Salvation on Wheels
by Chase
Invent It Challenge 2012-2013

Inventors are rarely satisfied. They are always tinkering with their ideas. Tweak, test, probe and try to get a better result each time. Once you have your main idea, don’t get hung up on being perfect or exactly right. Focus instead on small changes that make your ideas just that little bit better every time.


9 Develop a thick skin.

Handwash Splash Guard
Handwash Splash Guard
by Alisha
Invent It Challenge 2012-2013

People rarely mock inventors or their ideas; mostly because they are afraid to appear foolish. The most common reaction inventors get can be much more hurtful. People not caring at all for their idea or no reaction at all. You will be totally passionate about your invention and will want to share your idea with others — don’t’ get discouraged if they just don’t care. Such is the life of an inventor. You rock and know that you might be the only person in the world that gets the idea right now — and that’s okay.


10 Sell your ideas and give credit where it's due.

FML Glasses
Solbrite: A Solar Panneled Purse LED Light
by Marlee
Invent It Challenge 2012-2013

Inventors sell the uniqueness of their idea. They try and help people understand it. Explain the problem it solves and why it’s the best way to solve it. Be a passionate champion and create excitement. Give credit to others that helped you on your journey. It’s the right thing to do (it’s also critical in securing patents — we will come to that later). It’s perfectly okay to build on someone else’s idea, but always give them credit for the original version.