Dear Afterschool Educator:guide.d to bring you the Invent It, Build ItThe Lemelson Foundation is delightenTeInve amsDesign Squad and Lemelson-MITIt builds on the rich resources ofof invention.12 in the creativity and possibilityto engage young people ages 9 toblememphasize teamwork, creative proThe guide’s six invention challengess people’s lives.solving, and how invention improveare stillat a time in their lives when theyThe activities reach young peopleative spirit,Our goal is to spark their investigintrigued by the world around them.their ideask through problems, and expresspromote creativity, help them thint in math,s stimulates young people’s interesthrough building things. This procesto theirconnects the process of inventionscience, and engineering. It alsoge of careers and social issues.everyday lives and to a broad ranntors,one of America’s most prolific inveEstablished by Jerome Lemelson,on and thesustains, and celebrates innovatithe Lemelson Foundation sparks,suppor tU.S. and in developing countriesinventive spirit. Its programs in thement.environmentally sustainable developinvention-led economic, social, andedlishomprs to recognize and celebrate accThe Foundation works with par tners,toring suppor t to grassroots inventoinventors, provide financial and mendingbudirenable young people to develop theoffer hands-on opportunities thats lives.e technologies that improve people’scientific curiosity, and disseminatinventionthe Invent It, Build It guide to bringusetoyouageourencweit,spirIn thisand solveple and inspire them to investigateand engineering to life for young peors makehelp the next generation of inventochallenging problems. Together, let’sthe world a better place!Sincerely,Dorothy LemelsonChairJulia Novy-HildesleyExecutive

TABLE OF CONTENTSDesign Squad and Lemelson-MIT InvenTeams have teamed up to bring you sixhands-on challenges designed to spark the inventive spirit of kids aged 9–12.Whether you’re running an afterschool program, workshop, or event, thesechallenges are a fun way to bring invention to life for kids, get them thinking likeinventors and engineers, and show them how invention improves people’s lives.INTRODUCTIONHow to Use This Guide2Talking with Kids about Inventing4Introducing the Design Process6Setting Up an Invention Club7INVENTION CHALLENGESCompetition plusengineering equals fun!Design Squad gets kidsthinking like engineers andshows them that engineeringis fun, creative, andsomething they can do.Watch it on PBS and visit theWeb site to get episodes,games, 35 hands-onchallenges, and much more. Confetti LauncherInvent a device to launch a big cloud of confetti.8 Get-Moving GameInvent a game that gets everyone up and moving.13 Harmless HolderInvent a holder for six cans that’s animal-safe, sturdy, convenient,and easy to carry.18 Speedy ShelterInvent a sturdy shelter that’s easy to build.23 Convenient CarrierInvent a way for someone using crutches or a wheelchair tocarry all their stuff.28Inspiring a New Generation of Inventors Invent a Better WorldInvent solutions for needs found in daily life.33Invention, here we come!Through design challenges,educational resources, andgrant programs, InvenTeamsengages kids in invention,empowers them to problemsolve, and encourages aninventive culture in schoolsand communities.APPENDIXKid Inventors (tear-out poster)37The Design Process (tear-out poster)39Education Standards41Invention Resources42Sources for Materials43Related PBS Resources44

HOW TO USE THIS GUIDEThe guide’s challenges take about an hour, use readily available materials, givekids many ways to succeed, and are aligned with national science and technologystandards. You can use them in a: one-time session—like a workshop or event. Every challenge can be done asa stand-alone experience. series of sessions—like an invention club or an afterschool science orengineering program. Want to start an invention club? See page 7.TO GET STARTED Read the leader notes. Found at the beginning of each challenge, they’ll helpyou understand how to prepare for and run a session. Try the activity yourself. A practice run will help you figure out the best way tointroduce the activity and anticipate potential problems your kids may run into. Print the challenge sheet. This handout for kids—a cartoon strip featuringDesign Squad host Nate Ball—presents the problem to solve. It also providesthe context for the challenge, questions to help kids brainstorm design ideas,and tips for building and troubleshooting.Invention appeals to anyonewho loves using his or heringenuity to problem solveand make a difference inthe world. Decorate the room. Set the stage for creative thinking, and get kids excitedabout invention. Post the tear-out invention posters found in the appendix.Also, Invention Resources (page 42) lists Web sites that feature wackyinventions, inspiring quotes about invention, and interesting profiles ofinventors. Visit the Web sites, find items that you like, print them out,and post them around the room.Leader notes pageKids’ activity handout2

TO LEAD A CHALLENGENever led an invention activity? Don’t worry! The leader notes give you all you needto facilitate a session. The leader notes are divided into the following sections: The invention challenge—Presents the goal for the session and the stepsinvolved in running the challenge. Each challenge is designed to help kids(who work in groups of two or three) understand that inventors look for waysto improve people’s lives. Prepare ahead of time—Lists things to do to get ready for the activity. Warm-up activity—Gives kids an opportunity to practice a particular inventivethinking skill (e.g., improvisation, flexibility, and visualization) that they’ll usemore extensively as they tackle the session’s challenge.If a design doesn’t work asplanned, encourage kids totry again. Setbacks oftenlead to design improvementsand success. Introduce the challenge—Provides an attention-grabbing story for you to readaloud. The story gives kids a real-world context for the challenge’s problem aswell as a sense of relevance, purpose, and meaning for their own inventing. Brainstorm design ideas—Helps kids think about different ways to meeta challenge. Build, test, and redesign—Lists issues that might surface during a challengeand suggests strategies to use with kids who face these issues. Discuss what happened—Provides questions (and answers) that review theactivity’s key science and engineering concepts, helping kids reflect on thedesign process and how the challenge relates to invention. Tinker some more—Presents extension activities that reinforce and expand theexperiences kids have had in a challenge.TIPS FOR FACILITATING OPEN-ENDED CHALLENGES There are multiple ways to successfully tackle a challenge. One solution canbe just as good as another. Help kids see that the challenges are notcompetitions. Instead, they’re opportunities to unleash an individual’s ingenuityand creativity. When kids feel stuck, have them describe why they think they got the resultsthey did. Ask questions rather than telling them what to do. For example, ask:“Why do you think this is happening?” or “What would happen if ?” or “Whatis another thing you could try?” When something’s not going as desired, encourage kids to try again. Have themcompare their design to other kids’ designs. Remind them that problems areopportunities for learning and for using creative thinking. Have kids come up with several ways to solve a problem before they moveahead with an idea.3

TALKING WITH KIDS ABOUTWHO, ME? AN INVENTOR?INVENTIONS BY KIDSEven people with very littletraining can be inventors Earmuffs (ChesterGreenwood, age 15) Makin’ Bacon—a quick,healthy way to cookbacon (Abigail Fleck, age 8) Popsicles (FrankEpperson, age 11) Fantasy baseball gamewith trading cards(Dustin Satloff, age 10) Sifting shovel forseparating soil fromleaves (Kaileigh Kirton,age 11) Helmet for sailors(Palmer Rampell, age 15) The cathode ray (TV)tube (Philo Farnsworth,age 14) Glow-in-the-dark writingpad (Rebecca Schroeder,age 10) Braille alphabet for theblind (Louis Braille,age 12) Crayon holder for brokencrayons (CassidyGoldstein, age 11)Yes! People from every corner of the world, of different ages, with different levelsof education invent by identifying problems, pursuing ideas, and developing newsolutions. The key to inventing is identifying a need and devising an originalsolution.Maybe a better question is, “Is there anyone who isn’t an inventor?” Let kidsknow that everyone has the capacity for invention. We all solve problems throughinventive thinking, whether it’s figuring out a way to prop open a window, stay dry ina rainstorm, or build a playhouse from scrap materials. Creative problem solving,improvisation, flexibility, and tinkering drive the inventive spirit.WHAT’S AN INVENTION?Let kids know that an invention is a useful creation that didn’t exist before.Round out their understanding of invention by sharing the characteristics below. An invention usually fills a need or solves a problem. Inventions often make the world a better place. Inventions can be things (e.g., a cell phone or backpack) as well as ideas (e.g.,a new method for tying a knot, or a story). An invention often makes something better (e.g., faster, stronger, cheaper,easier, safer or more efficient, attractive, useful, accurate, fun, or productive).But as long as it’s a new way to do something, it’s still invention even if it isn’tnecessarily better than what existed before.WHY INVENT?Inventing is a process. It starts with a need and ends up with something new—theactual invention. To solve problems: Inventors are skilled at spotting ways to improve a situationor process. The activities in this guide help kids develop solutions to problemsby applying the design process. To improve our world: Imagine how different our lives would be withoutinventions, such as computers, refrigerators, electricity, plastic, and medicine.The activities in this guide show how inventions improve things at home,at school, in the community, and in the world. To enjoy the creative process: Invention involves both thinking and doing.The activities in this guide help kids become involved in the process of thinkingabout a problem and then doing something about it. Because they create theirown solutions, kids get excited about the process of inventing.4

INVENTINGINVENTORS AND ENGINEERSARE SIMILAR IN MANY WAYSEngineering is a process for developing solutions to problems. Inventing is aprocess for creating things that didn’t exist before. Inventors sometimes useengineering to create new solutions, but, as discussed on page 4, many do not.Both inventors and engineers look for ways to improve things in areas like health,food, safety, transportation, aerospace, electronics, communication, and theenvironment. And when the improvement is something new, it’s an invention.DISPEL THE STEREOTYPE THAT SURROUNDSENGINEERING AND INVENTINGThere’s a stereotype that engineering is boring and hard. To fight this stereotype,tell kids about some of the exciting challenges inventors and engineers take on tohelp improve people’s lives, and point out how central invention and engineeringare in our daily lives. Create more fuel-efficient carsDesign a lighter bike frameInvent a more powerful superglueCreate satellites that detect droughts around the worldDevelop state-of-the-art cell phonesInvent artificial retinas for people who are blindDevelop a feather-light laptopDesign clothing that repels mosquitoesCreate a wheelchair that can go up stairsFIND OUT MOREGet activities, profilesof cool inventors andengineers, and more.See page 42 and visit:Design r Your PROCESS OF INVENTION INVOLVES: identifying a problem and/or realizing that something can be improved. talking to people who might use the invention.The Lemelson Centerfor the Study of Inventionand brainstorming creative solutions to a problem, which often involves makingimaginative connections between seemingly unrelated things. devising and testing solutions (i.e., experimenting). applying science and engineering concepts. using tools, materials, and techniques to make workable solutions. trying again when things don’t work out. On Design Squad, we say, “Fail fast—succeed sooner!” seeing a project through by being motivated, persistent, and dedicated.5

INTRODUCING THE *DESIGN PROCESSInventors’ and engineers’ initial ideas rarely solvea problem. Instead, they try different ideas, learnfrom mistakes, and try again. The series of stepsthey use to arrive at a solution is called the designprocess. As kids work through a challenge, use thequestions below to talk about what they’re doingand to tie it to specific steps of the design process.BRAINSTORM What are some different ways to tackle today’schallenge?The design process is builtinto each challenge. As kidswork through a challenge,they’ll see that the steps ofthe design processencourage them to thinkcreatively about a problem toproduce a successful result. How creative can we be? Off-the-wallsuggestions often spark GREAT ideas!DESIGN Which brainstormed ideas are really possible,given our time, tools, and materials? Can we phrase it as an invention statement,such as “I will invent an x that does y”?BUILD What are some problems we’ll need to solve aswe build our projects? What materials will you need to buildyour invention?TEST, EVALUATE, AND REDESIGNEXPAND YOUR SKILLS Why is it a good idea to keep testing a design?Learn ways to integrate thedesign process into theprojects you do with kids bydoing the free NASA/DesignSquad online training. Find itat SOLUTIONThe design process is a greatway to tackle almost any task.In fact, you use it each timeyou create something thatdidn’t exist before (e.g.,planning an outing, cooking ameal, or choosing an outfit). What specific goal are you trying to achieve, and how will you know if you’vebeen successful? What were the different steps you had to do to get your project to work theway you wanted? What do you think is the best feature of your invention? Why? What are some things our inventions have in common? If you had more time, how could you improve your invention? Look at the group to your left. What’s something you like about their inventionand something that could be improved? (This helps to develop teamwork byteaching kids how to give constructive criticism.)* This design process graphic is available as a tear-out poster on page 39.6

SETTING UP ANINVENTION CLUBThe club format appeals to kids. They like being part of a group, having funtogether, and having an experience that builds over time. In a club, kids willpractice and model for each other important skills, such as problem solving,teamwork, critical thinking, and creativity.All you need to run an invention club is a large room, some tables, some basictools, and some low-cost materials. The resources in this guide and on theDesign Squad Web site make it easy to facilitate a club and engage kids ininvention and engineering.STARTING AN INVENTION CLUBRecruit club members Create a “Coming Soon” bulletin board and post a flier about the club. Advertise the club in your organization’s newsletter. Tell families about thechallenges that kids will do and how to sign up their kids.WHY A CLUB?An invention club draws kidswho are interested in (orwho might want to checkout) invention andengineering. It gives them adefined time to do theguide’s activities, refine theirdesigns, and even developtheir own inventions. Determine the number of kids you feel comfortable managing (we suggest 8to 12 per leader). If more sign up, get more leaders, divide the club into twosessions, or keep a waiting list for the next time you offer the club.Schedule the dates and arrange a meeting place Decide how many weeks your club will meet and the duration of each meeting.(We recommend at least an hour for five or six sessions.) Then select andreserve a space that has ample room and tables for materials. A place to storekids’ work is also helpful.Give your room an invention club look and feel Tear out the posters in this guide and hang them in your clubroom. Make a bulletin board and post photos of kids doing the challenges so otherscan see what goes on at invention club meetings. For more ideas on how to give your room an “invention” look and feel, see page 2.Partner with inventors and engineers Invite inventors and engineers to talk about everyday examples of inventing andengineering. The guests will serve as role models and can introduce kids tocareer options. To find volunteers, contact local universities and colleges withengineering programs. Also try manufacturing plants and public works and waterdepartments. In addition, the Design Squad, InvenTeams, and Lemelson CenterWeb sites list engineering societies that can recommend potential partners.(See page 42.)CONNECT YOUR KIDSWITH INVENTEAMSThere are InvenTeams atschools throughout thecountry. If one’s nearby,connect your kids withwhat’s going on there. Tofind the nearest one, Show video clips of engineers and kid inventors talking about how they becameinterested in engineering and inventing and the rewards of being an engineer.Get the D-Squad ProFiles at and InvenTeamsprofiles at

CHALLENGE 1CONFETTI LAUNCHERSHOW KIDS THERELATED TV EPISODEThe invention challengeInvent a device that launches a spoonful of confetti into the air. The biggerthe cloud, the better.In this challenge, kids: (1) play a creative-thinking game; (2) discuss the needfor a confetti launcher; (3) brainstorm ways to launch confetti; (4) follow thedesign process to build a working prototype.Prepare ahead of time Read the leader notes and the challenge sheet.Photo: Mika TomczakThe perfect pancake? In the“Batter Up” episode, watchthe Design Squad teamsseek the right “ingredients”for a machine to cook, flip,and serve up deliciousflapjacks at the flick of aswitch. Watch the “Batter Up”episode online at andflexible thinkingare useful in everyphase of theinvention process. Set up a testing zone—a large (e.g., 10x10 or 10x14-foot) tarp on the floorwith an “X” taped in the center. Also have brooms and dustpans on hand. Gather the materials (per pair): paper confetti 1 straw 2 sheets ofcardboard (approx.8.5 x 11 in.) duct tape1 wooden spool4 paint stirrers4 rubber bands2 8-oz. paper cups 2 4-oz. paper cups stringWarm up: Play a game to promote creative thinking (10 minutes)Making imaginative connections is useful in the invention process. Today’s gameuses associations to help kids practice flexible, creative thinking. The game willalso help kids focus on items that can be launched.To play, say aloud the words: rocket, water balloon, ship, shot put, new business,javelin, torpedo, and satellite. Pause briefly between each word. Ask kids to guesswhat these things have in common. (They’re all Things That Are Launched.) Thefirst kid to name the category runs the second round. Whisper the new mysterycategory to your winner—Things at a Party. Ask him or her to think up things at aparty and say them aloud. The first kid to name the category wins and runs thefinal round, using the category Things That Come in Small Pieces. Play as inRounds 1 and 2. Finally, tell the group the name of an item that fits all threecategories—confetti!Introduce the challenge (5 minutes)To grab kids’ attention, rea