Inventing Matters: Use It! Activities

Encourage students to invent, while developing problem-solving skills through hands-on activities that bring to life devices to positively impact a global community.

Grades K-5 2 hr Resource by:

Today we announce the 2020 Lemelson-MIT Student Prize winners who are recognized for their technology-based inventions as graduate students or undergraduate teams in one of four categories: “Use it!,” “Move it!,” “Eat it!,” and “Cure it!” The national effort is sponsored by The Lemelson Foundation. “We congratulate this year’s winners for their outstanding work tackling global problems in order to improve lives around the world,” said Carol Dahl, executive director at The Lemelson Foundation. “These students are an inspiring example of how young minds across the country can solve problems through invention.”

Prize winners and the young inventors we have worked with from high schools across the U.S. cite the importance of having opportunities for learning the unique ways inventors find and solve problems. These opportunities (referred to as ‘invention education’) develop human skills needed for the workforce and prepare young people to be creative problem solvers in their communities and beyond. We invite you to explore the examples of young inventors on this site and to get started on the pathway to inventing by picking an activity in whatever category fits your personal interest and passion.

Have fun inventing!

2020 “Use it!” Lemelson-MIT Student Prize Undergraduate Team Winner

Neptune Plastics: Marx Acosta-Rubio, Grant Christensen, and Hal Jones, Brigham Young University. A biodegradeable and compostable plastic bag that is safe for wildlife to eat!

2020 “Use it!” Lemelson-MIT Student Prize Graduate Winner

Daniela Blanco, New York University. A greener chemical reactor, which is a machine that transforms a raw material into a useable product.

We recommend you read the letter to Caring Adults of K-5 Children first. The letter has helpful hints on how to have fun with children while learning about inventors and inventing! You don’t need to work through the categories in order, and every category includes inventors’ stories, videos, and activities to complete while thinking like inventors. For inspiration, check out the videos of young inventors and their inventions below. Good luck!