More and more schools are doing invention conventions, where children have to come up with an invention to present to their peers and a panel of judges. This is exciting to a lot of kids, but many parents don't know how to help their children create an invention that will work and garner a good grade on the project. Understanding what is expected of your child and from where you can draw inspiration will help you help your child.
Inspiration from Everyday Life
Unfortunately, when your child has to invent something, there are no websites or books that will make the project simple. Invention conventions require original ideas meant to encourage your child to get excited about science and learning, while she attempts to create a working invention that will benefit others. For inspiration, consider the things that your child likes to do. Encourage him to think about how daily tasks could be made easier. Inventions are usually a result of someone wanting to make everyday life and tasks more convenient.
Know Your Limitations
Allow your child to do as much of the inventing and planning as possible, but let her know about limitations. If she wants to invent an electrical piece of equipment but neither of you knows anything about electricity, such an invention may be hard to pull off. Keep things simple for younger children; when you keep the invention within your and your child’s scope of knowledge, the process will go a lot more smoothly. Don’t be afraid of expanding your knowledge base and that of your child, but always keep in mind that simpler is better for these projects.
With an invention convention, much of the grade comes from originality, something that hasn’t been invented before. Pets, sports, hobbies, household items and chores are often where great ideas come from. Have your child think about what will make these things easier, more exciting or simply more convenient.
Children tend to gear their inventions toward their own interests. For example, elementary school children at a science fair in Georgia came up with, among other things, a pizza cutter that makes all slices the same size and a peanut butter jar with a lid on both ends to make sure none of the nutty spread goes to waste. By the time they reach high school and have a more complex understanding of the world, and their inventions reflect this. Some notable high school inventions in 2011, as reported by Popular Science, included a portable water desalinator and a cellphone app that tests water quality.
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