Step 1:  Learning About Inventors

The first step in becoming an inventor is to learn all that you can about other inventors and their inventions and discover how and why certain products were invented. Did you ever wonder why the safety pin was invented? Or how toothpaste was packaged before it was put into tubes? And how about mousetraps? Did you ever think of how many different types have been invented? In reading about inventors, you will learn that their inventions were made to fulfill a need. You will also learn that successful inventors:

•  Keep an open and curious mind. They are always looking for a better way to do things, and they do not resist change.
•  Gather as much information as they can about an idea before they begin to invent.
•  Keep trying to find a solution to their problem. They go through a lot of trial and error as they seek a solution. They do not give up.
•  Continue to improve their products.

Step 2:  Finding An Idea

It can be said that necessity is the mother of invention. Your idea for an invention will come from something that you or someone you know needs. There are several ways to find ideas for inventions. One way is to ask people if there is anything they need. Another method is called brainstorming. You can brainstorm alone or with others. Here is an example of how brainstorming works:

•  Name an object, such as a lunchbox.
•  Take ten minutes to list everything you can that is wrong with lunchboxes.
•  Find a way to correct some of the problems.

Your ideas for solving the problems can be a big step toward inventing a new or improved product. Keep in mind that your invention does not have to be a product. Instead, it can be a new process for doing something. For example, it may be a better way of memorizing a list of objects or a new card game.

Step 3:  Research And Planning

Before an invention can be successful, you need to have a plan. Your plan should include all the steps you can think of, from beginning to end. When writing your plan, ask yourself questions such as these:

•  What can I read about that will help me with my invention?
•  Who can I talk to about solving problems and planning properly?
•  What materials will I need?
•  How can I control the cost of my invention?
•  What steps should I follow?
•  How much time should I allow for each step?
•  How can I test my invention?

Don’t be surprised if you have to change your plans along the way. Sometimes a plan will not work as well as you first thought it would. So keep an open mind for change. You may even discover a better way of completing a certain step.

Step 4:  Developing And Testing

Now the work begins. Follow your plan step by step. If you have difficulty with a certain part of you invention, find an expert to talk to. Try different things until you overcome the difficulty. Most of all, don’t give up! As Henry Ford, one of the inventors of the automobile, once said, “Failure is only an opportunity to start again more intelligently.”

If your invention is a new way to do something, describe your process in a written report. Give all the important details of your process. To show that your idea works, you should test it. The results of your test should be written into your report.

Be sure to make plans for displaying your invention within a 2ft x 2ft space. An attractive display is important. You will want people to be attracted to your invention or project. A good promotion plan should include posters or other eye-catching materials. Remember, an inventor has to sell people on his or her product or process. You will be judged on how well you promote your invention.

Step 5:  Attending the Duke Energy Invention Convention

When you set up your display, include all reports and test results. You will be talking to judges about your work, and later you will be showing your invention to visitors. If you think a judge is missing the point of your invention or project or is not asking the right questions, speak up. Sometimes new ideas take a while to catch on. The judges will judge your invention, your knowledge of it, and the way you have presented it.

Step 6:  HAVE FUN!

Enjoy the convention! Try to visit the other inventors to see and admire their work. Keep an open mind and be positive. Be proud! You are a scientific problem solver.