The Invent It Challenge is an annual competition that inspires students around the world to unleash their inner inventor! The competition was created 8 years ago by Smithsonian’s Lemelson Center and Cricket Media, with the goal of educating, engaging and empowering kids across the globe to learn and use the invention process to make change in our world. Since then, thousands of kids around the globe have tried their hands at inventing through the Challenge, and many have gone on to patent their ideas!
Every year, students document their use of Smithsonian’s 7 step Spark!Lab Invention Process, to brainstorm new inventions to solve global problems. For the 2019 Dr. InBae Yoon Challenge, participants will focus their minds and talent on generating inventions that enhance and improve the daily lives and activities of older adults.
Often entire classroom of students enter either individually or as teams. Teachers and home school parents love it as their students get to apply their STEM skills in an engaging real-world challenge. The high-quality, free curriculum provided by the Smithsonian and Cricket Media make participating a smooth learning experience for students, educators, and parents alike.
Young inventors aged 5 to 18, either individually or on teams, compete in four age divisions:
● Ages 5–7
● Ages 8–10
● Ages 11–13
● Ages 14–18
In addition to presenting an invention idea that enhances and improves the lives and activities of older adults, each entry must show the process by which the invention idea was developed, showcasing the completion of the 7 Key Steps of the Invention Process. Suitable Entry Formats: PowerPoint Deck (either the provided template or entrant’s preferred PowerPoint format) or Video.
Note: Submission uploads must be under 2GB in one of the following allowed file types: ppt, pptx, avi, mov, mp3, mp4, mpg
Teachers and Parents love the Invent It Challenge because it provides a platform for students to integrate numerous STEM skills with their creativity and apply it to solve real-world challenges. They also love the ready-made resources that make it easy to support students as they create their entries.
Students love the Invent It Challenge because it helps them realize they can make a difference in the world and that they have the skills and creativity to make unique contributions to society. Students not only love the amazing prizes such as the trip to Washington D.C., but also the fact that the challenge helps them realize they can do whatever they set their minds to!
A panel of Smithsonian and ePals judges review all entries using the evaluation criteria outlined in the Scoring Guide. While all entries are honored through publication in our online gallery, judges identify our winners by looking for young inventors that excel at explaining the problem, innovating on past ideas, sketching and prototyping their invention, testing and tweaking their idea and explaining how the invention enhances and improves the daily lives and activities of older adults in an innovative way. As a culmination of the Challenge, each year an ‘ePals Choice Award’ winner is chosen for the highest honorary award by popular vote.
Each Challenge entry must adhere to the complete Official Rules, identifying a real-world problem related to enhancing and improving the daily lives and activities of older adults and demonstrating all seven of Spark!Lab Key Steps of the Invention Process. For the invention submission, Entrant can use either the provided PowerPoint template, Entrant’s preferred PowerPoint format, or video. For the evaluation criteria for judging, see the Scoring Guide.
In addition to the amazing Cricket Magazine, Turing Tumble, Unruly Splats, and Bitsbox prizes as well as the Camp Invention® Scholarship, Faber-Castell Art Supplies, Smithsonian Books and Washington D.C. Trip, Winners will also participate in an informational and educational seminar and one on one consultation(s) with U.S. Patent and Trademark Office subject matter experts on the use and importance of protecting their intellectual property through patents, trademarks, copyrights, and trade secrets. For a complete list of all available prizes please visit our prizes page.
The Challenge opens on January 17, 2019 (National Inventor’s Day) and closes on April 5, 2019. Winners will be announced on May 5, 2019.
The Challenge Community is an online space for students, teachers, and parents to interact with one another and experts from the Lemelson Center.
Students must document completion of each of the 7 Key Steps of the Invention Process in a PowerPoint or video and submit their entry anytime between 12:00 AM EST, January 17, 2019 and 11:59 PM EST, April 5, 2019, by following submission instructions, found on the Submit page to submit their entry anytime between 12:00 AM EST January 17, 2019 and 11:59 PM EST on April 5, 2019.
If you are a participant in the National Invention Convention you can easily convert the materials you created to satisfy the requirements for entering the Invent It Challenge. You just have to be between the ages of 5 and 18 and your invention has to be beneficial to older adults in some way, even if that wasn’t the primary reason why you created your invention. Like the National Invention Convention, the Invent It Challenge requires you to document your progress through a 7-step invention process. The materials you created – your Log book, Display Board, prototype, and pitch – can all be used to document your progress through Smithsonian’s 7-steps of Invention using the Invent It Challenge PowerPoint Submission Template. You may also choose to create a video documenting your progress through the steps instead of using the PowerPoint template. We recommend you use this Student Guide to help you determine how you can convert your materials for the National Invention Convention to enter the Invent It Challenge.
If you are a participant in the Invent It Challenge and are selected as a winner in one of the four Individual or Team age categories (5-7, 8-10, 11-13, or 14-18), you automatically become eligible to enter the National Invention Convention. One of the prizes you will receive is a waiver for the registration fee – $300 – to enter the National Invention Convention. You can easily convert the materials you created to enter the Invent It Challenge to satisfy most of the requirements for entering the National Invention Convention. The materials you created – your video or PowerPoint documenting your progress through the 7-Steps of Invention – can be easily converted to satisfy the National Invention Requirement for students to document their invention process in an Invention Log Book and for students to build a prototype. However, there are a few extra things you will need to do. First, you’ll need to create a Display Board (see the Log Book for more information). Second, even if you’ve already created a video for the “Sell It” step, you need to create one that meets National Invention Convention’s requirements for an Online Pitch (see the National Invention Convention’s website for more information). We recommend you use this Student Guide to help you determine how you can convert your materials for the Invent It Challenge to enter the National Invention Convention.
The team of judges is comprised of experts at Cricket Media and the Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation.
Cricket Media® is a mission-based global education company creating high-quality print and multi-media products for children, families, and teachers. Led by its 10 award-winning children’s magazines and research-tested collaborative learning and eMentoring platforms, Cricket Media is committed to creating and supporting innovative learning experiences that help children safely explore and engage with their expanding world.
The Lemelson Center is the Smithsonian’s home for the study of invention and innovation. Through its historical research, educational initiatives, exhibitions, and public programming the Center advances new perspectives on invention and innovation and fosters interactions between the public and inventors. For more information please visit http://invention.si.edu.
The Challenge honors the legacy of an inspiring inventor. Dr. InBae Yoon (1936-2014) was a Korean American inventor who passionately believed—like we do—that everyone is inventive. His love of inventing sparked his lifelong commitment to drawing, tinkering, and prototyping his ideas, which resulted in over 200 US patents. The Spark!Lab Dr. InBae Yoon Invent It Challenge celebrates his legacy as an inventor and educator and aims to inspire the next generation of innovators!
VP, Education Products, Cricket Media
Deputy Director of the Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation
Marketing Coordinator, Cricket Media
Interpretive Exhibits Inventor
Education Consultant, Cricket Media
Spark!Lab National Network Coordinator
Education Consultant, Cricket Media
Museum Program Specialist
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