Kids and Inventions Tips

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How can I channel my kid invention maker?

Supporting the Kid Inventor in Your House

It's not always easy to live with a curious child – the one who asks so many questions, doubts so many answers, and wants to figure everything out for him or her self. While these are sometimes unnerving personality traits, there is a good way to channel your kid invention lover into productive activities.

Before you throw out that old alarm clock, stereo or appliance, ask your tinkerer if they'd like to take it apart for parts. Who knows what they'll invent with the parts, and they'll appreciate you acknowledging their thirst for invention.


Where to Look For Invention Help For Kids

Many schools hold science fairs during the school year as invention help for kids. But many school subjects in addition to science like math, computers, home economics, art and history can be combined into an Invention Fair. It shows that you can take lots of the aspects of school and put it together.

What kinds of things do young inventors come up with?

Young Inventor Alleviates Pain for Others

Krysta Morlan, a young inventor with cerebral palsy, was bored with typical physical therapy and adaptive equipment that had no pizazz. So she invented what she calls the waterbike. It operates in a semi-submerged position and utilizes fins for power and a rudder to steer. Lightweight PVC tubing and foam makes it float. Other kids in her position are likely to find the bike more exciting than medical adaptive equipment that just reminds them of their disability. The waterbike can be used recreationally as well for people who have joint problems. Water creates just the right amount and kind of resistance to help repair and build muscle and joint strength. But, Morlan's ability to invent began while she was in 9th grade and after she endured numerous surgeries and casts to improve her condition. Her first invention was called a Cast Cooler, and she created it with her father as a way to relieve the discomfort of wearing a cast. With a modified aquarium pump, small motor and a battery, they figured out a way to pump cool air into a cast through a tube. The idea earned her an apprenticeship at Lemelson-MIT in 1998. She now attends college. In the long term, Morlan would like to help find cures for people with genetic disorders. She also plans on continuing to find ways to improve adaptive technology.

What are some interesting kid science experiments?

Kid Science Invention Projects

Whether at home, at camp or in the classroom, kids will love invention lessons when they involve goop, explosions and other messy things.

Experimenting is a major component of any scientific invention. Science experiments give you and your children the opportunity to invent, create and learn how things work.

- Make Playdoh with the recipe found on
- Click here to build a real working volcano -
- Learn how to stick skewers into balloons without busrsting them here -

The Internet is full of experiments that will keep your students glued to their seats.

Who is Inspector Gadget?

Kids of All Ages Love Gadgets

Kids of all ages love gadgets. That's why the movie Inspector Gadget was so popular. The movie not only included incredible gadget inventions, but Inspector Gadget himself was an incredible re-invention of a human. View the movie in your home or classroom and see how many gadgets you can count. Then come up with a new gadget invention for the Inspector.

How can I give my students a first had experience with inventing?

Invite an Inventor Into the Classroom

Teachers play a tremendous role in teaching our children not only the basics of science, math and reading, but of creative and critical thinking skills that will help them become productive 21st century adults.

Nothing teaches like a first hand experience. One invention idea for kids in the classroom is to invite a local inventor to come and present to your class. To locate one in your neighborhood you can go online to the USPTO web site at and conduct a search for ‘inventor city'. The United Inventor's Association also lists local chapters on their web site at

Can children become inventors?

Important Contributions of Kid Inventors

Never underestimate a child. The ability of invention by kid minds is awesome. Curious and passionate about the world around them, kids have invented new products large and small.

Eleven-year-old Frank Epperson invented the popsicle in 1905 when he left a fruit drink out overnight with a stirrer in it. First naming it an epsicle, he later renamed it popsicle. Years later he also invented the twin popsicle, fudgesicle and creamsicle.

Chester Greenwood invented earmuffs when he was 15 when his ears would become too cold when ice skating. Later establishing the Greenwood Ear protector factory, h e supplied ear muffs to the US soldiers during World War I. Over the years, chester accumulated over 100 patents and was named one of Americas 15 Outstanding Inventors by the Smithsonian.

The glo-sheet was invented by Becky Schroeder at the age of ten in 1972 in order to be able to continue writing after it got dark. She became the youngest female to ever receive a patent. Her sheets are used by doctors who need to check patient's charts without waking themas well as by NASA and the US Navy.

Lastly, Louis Braille was only 12 when he invented Braille in 1821.

Who invented the earmuff?

The Earmuff Capital of the World

It's not surprising that someone living in a cold climate would invent earmuffs. But, what might be a shock to most is that the inventor was a 15-year old grammar school drop-out. Born in Farmington, Maine in 1858, a kid inventor named Chester Greenwood was frustrated at how cold his ears were when he was out ice skating. He tried his scarf as protection but that didn't work. It was too bulky. So he formed two loops of wire and his grandmother sewed fur on them. A steel band kept them in place and he was able to patent a perfected model in 1873. Young Chester Greenwood made himself a fortunte selling what he called Champion Ear Protectors. He even established his own factory. The world's first ear muffs were especially common among soldiers in WWI. But Greenwood wasn't done. He patented 100 more inventions in his life including the steel-tooth rake issued in December of 1936. The Smithsonian Institution named Greenwood one of America's most outstanding inventors naming a field of only 15. And that is how Farmington, Maine became the earmuff capital of the world. Chester's ingenuity is celebrated on his birthday every year with a parade of--what else?--giant earmuffs.

How young are kid inventors?

Six-year-old Attains Patent in 1963 for Toy Truck

Invention ideas by kids provide some of the most heart-warming and interesting stories in the invention world. But how young are these kids? Aren't they usually just young adults or kid science gurus? In one case, a famous invention was created by a kid who couldn't get his driver's license for another 10 years. In 1963, a patent was granted to six-year old Robert Patch for a toy truck. He came up with a way to make a truck that could easily be disassembled and changed into a different vehicle. The patent number granted to Patch was 3,091,888. More recently, Jeanie Low of Houston, Texas invented a Kiddie Stool while still in kindergarten. Her stool actually attached to the vanity itself and would swing out of the way when not in use. The invention, which earned a patent in 1992, garnered her much local and national attention and helped her win invention contests. Now in high school, Jeanie has continued to invent as does her sister Elizabeth. If your child is an inventor, look for ways he or she can enter invention contests or give presentations to other kids. This will boost confidence and maybe spark an investor's interest. But, first make sure you take all precautions to protect the invention idea. If you don't, by disclosing it in public, you could forfeit future patent rights and income from sales.

What’s a good kid invention project for a classroom activity?

Teach Your Students the Business of Inventing

If you plan to include a kid invention project in your classroom, don't stop after the product is created. Teach your students about what it takes to not only patent an invention, but the art of marketing their invention as well.

Give your student inventors an opportunity to name their invention, create ads and even a jingle to help sell their new product. Bring in labels and packaging so they can see examples. Imagine a classroom display where products are placed next to their marketing pieces.

If my child has a new invention, how do I protect it before we sell it in stores?

Protecting a Child's New Invention

If your child invents a new toy or product, you'll likely need all the invention help you can get. If you've done any research on the topic, you know filing for a patent and following patent law is tricky business. There will be certain activities you need to focus on first. They include conducting a patent search, which means finding out if your child's novel idea has already been patented and looking closely at related patents if there are any. Then, you'll have to consider if you want to disclose the idea in a way that will be confidential but will still help you create evidence of when your child invented it. If someone else's child has also stumbled upon the idea, you need this evidence to prove your child had it first. Here are some key terms you are likely to come across when you seek invention help:

*Provisional and Non-provisional patent: A provisional application allows you to use the words, patent pending on your product but is not the same as patent protection. A non-provisional application, if accepted, will grant you a patent date that is the same as the date you filed.

*Trademark: A trademark is not the same as patent protection. It protects a marketing idea or brand name. You might end up applying for both.

*Prototype: If your child's idea needs some improvement, you'll have to prototype it. Websites like can help you with virtual prototyping on a computer.

*Patent Search Room and Patent and Trademark Depository Libraries: Both of these can help you search patents before you apply for yours. The search room is located in Va. while depository libraries are located through the country. They are both operated by the US Patent and Trademark Office; it's website is

What do I do if my child invents a new product or toy?

Is There a Genius in Your House?

If you're like most parents, you try to encourage ingenuity and inventiveness in your child. Kids love to take everyday household items and make something new out of them. But what if your child actually comes up with a novel and marketable idea that way? Should you try to sell it? Call your favorite toy store and try to get them hooked? Alert the local news media hoping to get the idea out to the public? Believe it or not, the first thing you should do is keep quiet. That will be hard to do but, in order to stop someone else from stealing your idea, you will likely have to protect it with a patent. And, according to patent law, there are rules governing public disclosure of a new invention. So what do you do? Here is a list of priorities you can consider to get the best invention help:

*First, create a professionally bound record book and write down all that has happened in the creation of the product and when it happened. Be as specific as possible; include dates.

*Visit the US Patent and Trademark website at to obtain basic advice on patents. There you'll discover that you can file for a patent to protect your child's idea on your own, but it's fairly tricky to do so because writing a claim that guarantees adequate protection is a learned skill.

*Find a local attorney or agent that has patent expertise and make an appointment. If this person is registered with the US patent office, he or she can represent you if you file for a patent. If not, you'll have to represent yourself. Patent agents can offer lots of good advice although they can't litigate in the case of patent infringement and other legal issues surrounding patents. Hiring such a professional will be an investment. But, patent law is quite complex as is the filing process so it's often strongly recommended that you get invention help this way. If you decide to hire a lawyer, pick one that has relevant patent experience. For example, if your child invented a new toy, hire one that has written this type of patent before. If it's an improvement to a bicycle, hire one that understands this type of technical patent.

*Come up with a patent search strategy on your own or with your lawyer that is as thorough as possible. You might discover--to your surprise--that someone else has already patented what you thought was a novel idea. Therefore, filing for a patent would be waste of time and money. Utilize several avenues of searching, not just the Internet. Many experts believe that INTERNET searches are not adequate to uncover all the data you'll need on previous patents.

How can I teach invention in my classroom?

Invention Connects School Subjects

The study of invention has connective roots to all other subjects. Inventions happen at a certain point in history. Many inventions are scientific and mathematical, no matter how ancient they are. They often contain artistic elements and reflect greatly on the culture of their time.

Invention is a great way to teach wholistically. Take the battery as an example. The Baghdad battery is believed to be about 2000 years old.Scientists believe the Baghdad battery was used to electroplate items such as putting a layer of one metal (gold) onto the surface of another (silver), a method still practiced in Iraq today.

Teach your students about the culture of the people today and historically. Look at their art – the battery is made of clay and looks like a pot. What is the historical advancements of the battery to its modern form and function?

How can I get my students to open up to inventing?

The Adventure of Inventing

Proposing to a class that they dive into the world of creating inventions where they may have to employ their math and science skills may not sound like a world of fun. So why not add some humor to warm them up to the idea.

Some of their favorite toys were inventions created by mistake. Silly Putty was invented in an attempt to find a substitute for rubber during World War II. And Slinky was invented while designing a meter to monitor horsepower on naval battleships. Richard James, a naval engineer dropped a spring to the ground. He noticed how it kept moving, and thought it would make a good toy. His wife Betty named the toy “slinky”.

Your students will not only get a good laugh out of these blunders, but it will provide them with an important lesson in life – to learn from and take advantage of mistakes.

Children’s natural instinct to brainstorm and create should be nurtured by parents and teachers alike. Coming up with new product ideas and inventions is a great way to instill a love of science, math, marketing and the entrepreneurial spirit. It also teaches cooperation and instill tremendous conf

Where to Look For Invention Help For Kids

Children's natural instinct to both take things apart and create from new should be nurtured by parents and teachers alike. Coming up with new product ideas and inventions is a great way to instill a love of science, math, marketing and the entrepreneurial spirit. It also teaches cooperation and instill tremendous confidence.

Invention help for kids can be found at invention summer camps like Camp Invention, invention contests for elementary through high school students like the Intel Science Talent Search, and at online invention sites like and and

Help inspire the inventors in your home or classroom.

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Ray Lokar