Stepping into Invention Education

Encourage students to invent, while developing problem-solving skills through hands-on activities.

Grades 6-8 60 min Resource by:

A new transdisciplinary approach to teaching and learning, known as invention education, is gaining popularity in the United States and abroad. Young people are learning ways inventors find and solve problems that matter through inquiry-based, hands-on projects.

They are also learning how to build solutions in ways that are environmentally friendly, how to protect their ideas and creations, and how to bring solutions to intended audiences (i.e. entrepreneurship).

Students and teachers tell us stories about the knowledge and human skills they gain that help prepare them for the future of work and to be leaders in their communities. They also tell us that the experience is fun and transformational to their lives. We invite you to take advantage of the time you may be spending at home. Gather your tools, re-usable materials and dive right into the activities we have on this site.

The Lemelson-MIT (LMIT) Program located within the School of Engineering at MIT has helped 257 teams of high school students and their teachers learn to invent. Ten teams have earned patents for their work. Prof. Michael Cima, LMIT’s Faculty Director, Prof. Sangeeta Bhatia, the 2014 Lemelson-MIT Prize winner, and MIT Media Lab alumnus and 2014 Lemelson-MIT Student Prize winner, David Sengeh, offer their insights into ways of helping young people learn to invent.

What can families do to use this time to help young people get started on the path to becoming a young inventor?

Prof. Michael Cima on the Pathway to Invention

What 3 pieces of advice would you offer to young inventors?

Prof. Michael Cima on Advice for Young Inventors

What characteristics do inventors share?

Prof. Sangeeta Bhatia on Invention

What’s important to think about when solving a problem?

David Sengeh on Invention Tips for Young People

This package includes activities for five days. It is best if you work through the activities in order. Everyday you will invent with common materials and create comic strips or digital stories about your invention experience. You can spend as long as you want on each activity: an hour or many hours. Remember, inventing is just plain fun!!


Activity 1: Let’s Invent: Creating Your Own Invention Box

Activity 2: Narrowing Down Your Invention Problem

Activity 3: Invention Prototyping

Activity 4: Invention Testing

Activity 5: Showcasing Your Invention!