Today is Kid Inventors’ Day. It was created several years ago by people who wanted to celebrate the achievements of the youngest inventors as well as encourage more children to be creative.
Why is Kid Inventors’ Day celebrated on 17th January?
It’s the anniversary of renowned polymath, politician and child inventor Benjamin Franklin’s birthday. When he was 12 years old, he invented the world’s first swim flippers! The trampoline and ear muffs were also invented by children!
What makes kids great inventors?
Kids are the greatest inventors because they have the most amazing imaginations, which aren’t restricted by a lifetime of boundaries. As adults we naturally critique our ideas as we come up with them, eliminating them before they even get onto paper.
I love the Kids Invent Stuff YouTube channel, which sets invention challenges for kids. They then pick from the entries and turn the inventions into reality.
How can I encourage my child to invent something?
So what can you do to celebrate Kid Inventors’ Day and encourage your child to use their fantastic imagination to solve a problem?
Ask your child if there are things they use which annoy them? Or what problems they have seen that friends or family members face? Tell them not to start thinking about how they can solve the problems. Don’t judge any of the ideas, just write them down.
Discuss some bigger topics
Some of the greatest inventions help to make the world a better place. So, talk about some bigger topics, like recycling, homelessness etc.
Get inspired by existing inventions
Find some inventions your child likes, such as a ball thrower for a dog, a scooter etc. What could they do to improve it? Can anyone else benefit from it? Is there anything else they could make it do? Could they put two inventions together to make one?
“I invented nothing new. I simply combined the inventions of others into a car. Had I worked fifty, or ten or even five years before, I would have failed.” Henry Ford
Once they’ve thought of an idea get drawing!
Ask your child to put their ideas down on paper. It’s at this stage that they can start working out the details. It’s important that they don’t get disheartened if their first idea doesn’t work, it is all part of the learning. Sometimes great inventions happen by mistake, penicillin, the slinky toy and post-it-notes!
“I didn’t fail 1000 times. The lightbulb was an invention with 1000 steps.” Thomas Edison
Make a prototype
Do some junk modelling to create a prototype. If you’re thinking, how can junk modelling be beneficial, surely it’s just rubbish? Check but my blog post about the benefits of junk modelling!
“To invent you need a good imagination and a pile of junk” – Thomas Edison, the famous inventor of the electric light bulb and other inventions.
Get some feedback from experts
Your child can upload their ideas to the Little Inventors website, so that people can see them across the globe. They will gain feedback from the Little Inventors team, led by Dominic Wilcox, an inventor. His work has been exhibited around the world and brands such as Nike, Kellogg’s and BMW have worked with him.
If your child is a little bit older, check out the Google Science Fair. It’s an online science and engineering competition open to anyone aged 13 to 18 across the world. Young inventors who have entered have produced some incredible inventions and scientific discoveries. They also have resources on their pages to help you turn your idea into a project.
Set-up a business!
You may be thinking that it’s a big leap from coming up with an idea to starting a business, but there are lots of kid entrepreneurs out there who are doing just that, very successfully. Shopify has an kids entrepreneur website to help support you. To celebrate and inspire the next generation of entrepreneurs KidZania ran it’s first KidPreneur Festival in November 2017, to allow children aged 4 – 14 years to learn first hand from some of the UK’s most inspiring young entrepreneurs.
If your child has decided that inventing is for them, you could go to the Big Bang Fair, in Birmingham. It gives 7-19 year olds the opportunity to be inspired by engineers and scientists from some of the UK’s biggest companies. There’s “virtual reality, medicine, marine biology, film and TV, space exploration, explosive chemistry, crime-solving, robots, computer coding, microscopic bugs, giant trucks and more.”
I hope that gives you some ideas of how you can encourage the inventor inside your child and celebrate Kid Inventors’ Day. I’ll be sharing some invention based art ideas on my Facebook and Instagram pages today which you could try too.
You might also like STEAM activities for kids – What are they and why do them?