Last month a group of us from the Merchandising department had the opportunity to be judges at an “Invention Convention”. This is part of a statewide program here in Connecticut where children first learn about inventors, find an idea, research and plan, develop their ideas, test them out and then ultimately showcase their inventions on Invention Convention day.
Six of us were privileged to attend the Charles H Barrows STEM Academy in North Windham CT for the morning. All 420 students at the school participated.
We started in a room with dozens of judges to learn the ropes of what the day would be like. We were then assigned to different groups of Kindergarten to 7th graders, I had 5th graders. Some of the children were a bit nervous, while others were ready and raring to go. From one station to another, each student would take a turn explaining the benefits of their invention, how they came up the idea, how they constructed it, and what family member helped them with the project. As much as the invention itself, the process they used and their presentation were all part of the evaluation.
It was fun to see the excitement and the pride that each student showed. Several of them were offering tips to the other students as we went from one station to another. This showed that this was not just about competition, but also building upon ideas which is inherent in the invention process.
Once we were through each presentation it was off to meet with other pairs of judges to exchange our top contender ideas and ultimately nominate the tops inventors to represent the school and advance on to the state finals. This was carefully positioned to be about nominating representatives rather than picking winners. After seeing the all the imagination, hard work and preparation that these students put on display for us, it was easy to see that they are all winners.
The outcome was that 42 of the inventors were sent to the state level Invention Convention where several were recognized with awards.
Author: Greg Ellal, Director of Merchandising at S&S Worldwide