National Kid Inventors Day is celebrated on January 17 each year. It honors the original kid inventor, Benjamin Franklin, who designed the first swim flippers at only twelve years old! National Kid Inventors Day exists to encourage creativity in our youngest members of society. As anyone knows, kids can come up with the darndest things! Of course, some of it may be outlandish, but children have a unique perspective of not being burdened down with the details that adults can’t help but acknowledge. The best thing about National Kid Inventors Day is that it can be celebrated school-wide. Inventions occur every day. From new building materials to applications, even the sky is no limit! Here are some ways to encourage your students’ creativity:
- Share and discuss past inventions made by children. Did you know that Popsicles were invented by a child? No summer vacation would be complete without Popsicles now! How about Braille? This language revolutionized the world for individuals suffering from visual impairment! What other past inventions were created by children? How would our world be different without these inventions? There are several selections of books on this topic. (Don’t forget to check out Big Universe for any eBooks!)
- Give students a selected amount of materials and ask them to use only these materials to build something useful. They can work individually, as pairs, or as groups. Their finished product has to be something that has a purpose and can be used for that purpose. Of course, you will need to ask a few extra directions to keep the students productive.
- Keep an Invention Inspiration journal. Have students jot down all their ideas and thoughts for new inventions. And, if they have a difficult time describing their invention in words, ask them to provide drawings and diagrams.
- Then, have students search the U.S. Patent Office Home Site to determine if their ideas have already been designed or listed. While they are there, have them check out the Inventor Resources page. Have parents get involved by helping students fill out a provisional patent application. After researching the site myself, I was tickled to find there was a prototype for a notebook that velcroed to your belt. It was intended for police officers, but I don’t think I’ve ever saw one. Find some examples of your own to share with students and have them discuss why some inventions are not widely known or seen.
- Get your whole school involved in an Invention Convention! Have students design a prototype of their invention to show off their skills and judge the public’s reaction. Have a contest and invite the community to donate prizes and participate. You never know if you have a future multi-millionaire in your classroom just waiting for this type of opportunity!
Have one of your students ever invented a product? Was it useful? Please share your results. I may be the next biggest customer!