September 16 - Santa Cruz, CA
"Now more than ever, we need to prepare students to be creative problem solvers," said Brenda Payne, founder of the California Invention Convention. "In fact, we have a duty to encourage our students to think differently. And that starts with empowering our educators."
On Saturday, September 21, teachers from throughout the state will convene in Santa Cruz to learn how to bring invention education into their classrooms.
"Teaching students about invention goes beyond traditional STEM education to include public speaking and entrepreneurship skills," Payne added. "The students are challenged to find a problem in the world around them, and solve it, using their school-learned skills and materials at hand."
In 2019, over 3,000 students and nearly 200 educators participated in the California Invention Convention. Local competitions were held throughout California, with winners advancing to the state competition in the spring at program sponsor Maxim Integrated headquarters in San Jose. 40 winners then advanced to the national competition at The Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation in Dearborn, Michigan. Several Californian students came back with awards.
Now being adopted across California -- and even the world -- the free invention education curriculum is a K-12, 10-week program taught in the classroom and aligned with California Common Core state Standards and Next Generation Science Standards, designed by educators from across the nation. "The premise is to ask students to identify a problem in their own lives, or that of their families’, use problem solving and creative thinking processes to solve the problem, develop an invention idea, build a prototype of the solution, test and improve the design, and finally discuss your problem and research with others," explains Payne.
"Building a great invention that works is satisfying for the inventor, but it is not the only impact on the young inventors," she said. "This is a process that opens up the world for them, and in some instances can be life-changing. It changes the whole way kids relate to their future."
"Getting involved grew my love for engineering and coding," said Morganne Malloy, a California Invention Convention winner. "It was so much fun and I learned so much. I will remember it forever."
Teachers are trained on curricular resources, then tailor the lessons to the requirements of their student body. In-school lessons are activities that can be attached to any subject, including science, history, math, art, and music coursework. About one hour a week is devoted to in-school mentoring, and the rest is done at home, often with the entire family. At the end of the program, students come together to present their inventions and celebrate their creative problem-solving accomplishments in a science-fair like Invention Convention event.