As an inventor with issued patents, products licensed, manufactured and available in retailers today, 3x author including “Inventing Secrets Revealed” and most recently “How To Make Money With Your Invention”, host of Got Invention TV & Radio (gotinvention.com), Founder regional inventors clubs and now National Inventor Club and on air guest for my inventions on QVC, my daughter Alana now 21 years old and finishing up her junior year of college, has been growing up watching every move I make. I know she has because just being around someone as crazy as me, you can’t help but to realize how things you use every day work, how if something annoys you to figure out another way to make it work, and then write it down, describe the new way you think it can work, draw a picture of what it looks like from the image in your mind…”let’s do a search on the internet and see if it’s out there”, I tell her! Even if we find it online or in a store, I buy it for her, so she can see and use what she imagined to make it real. If we don’t find her idea anywhere and it has potential, we start the invention process together and have produced several of her ideas!
Over the years, I have been invited to speak in elementary, middle and high schools and colleges, career days, entrepreneur and science classes etc., and even had local media cover my visits because the teacher called and pitched it to them. It has been a satisfying experience for me and from the feedback I’ve been getting, extremely rewarding for the students and teachers who are opening the door and allowing the seeds to be planted for innovation in schools. I want to share my message I am sending out there, so you can get an idea of what I am doing and copy or do it in your own way, but you should do it immediately because it is up to us to pass the message! You have success in your own way as inventors and you have something to share with the kids, whether or not your product is in retail or your service has not made a penny yet. It is all about making kids aware of their environment and keeping their minds open for change.
Here is how I adjust my agenda when I’m talking to elementary school students to college students.
Elementary schools- I tell the kids that I am an inventor and then ask if they know what an inventor is and does? Then show them some of my inventions they can relate to including, Paper Towel Topper, Balloon-O-Band, Pull Ties, and Eggstra-Space inventions (see my inventions HERE) and why I came up with them (you can do the same with your invention). I then tell them that everything around them that we see and use was someone’s idea and then I make the students think about how and why people come up with inventions.
Then I bring the basic yo-yo and have a volunteer demonstrate how they use it until they have to manually wind it up and I tell everyone to pay attention to what they have to do to wind it back up and how long it takes… Then I take out an automatic rewinding yo-yo and I say, look at this…. Someone didn’t like to wind up their own yo-yo so here is this one… who wants to try it? Then I have one student do the regular yo-yo and then the other student do the automatic one and see both in action. Then I add another volunteer to do a regular yo-yo that has light effects. So I show them all different ways that a yo-yo is used and can look. So the lesson I tell them is that someone made up a fun game called the yo-yo, another wanted to make it easier to use and another one wanted it to glow in the dark or have lights flashing. This makes sense to them and they totally get it. They realize that one thing as simple as a yo-yo has and can have so many variations and improvements to it. Then I show them a regular football and foam football and I throw it out to the kids and have them toss it around to each other to keep the energy up and also show them the comparison of how there is a football that can hurt when you are having a catch and one that is soft and safe to catch.
Then I bring some products, mostly inventor’s products that have not quite made it to retail yet and I tell them that maybe the product could use some improvement… here is what it does, but what do you think could be done differently, so what would you change and what would you improve? I go around the room and have everyone contribute their thoughts and it’s amazing what they come up with. I do this exercise again with another product. Afterwards, I stop and look at all of them and I say, “all of you are inventors after looking at something and coming up with new ways is what it takes. And if there is not something out there at all like what you are thinking, then you may really be on to something big!”
Then I bring a book in called “The Kid Who Invented the Popsicle” which has quick stories about how and why inventions such as gum, ice cream cones, the zipper and many more, which I have some of the kids choose from and then either I read it to them or they do. I encourage them to keep asking questions and thinking about new ideas and sharing them with their parents.
Then we do a question/ answer session.
At the other school levels, I like to talk to them about being aware of new ideas that are always coming to retail, new technology, web ideas, new businesses, etc. and what they can do when they come up with an idea. I walk them through the process of doing a web search, explaining what a patent is, making a prototype and different ways to bring an idea to market by licensing it and I explain what licensing is, a company with manufacturing capabilities with retail distribution, and also manufacturing on your own, and the risks/rewards. Estimated time: 30 minutes (can be adjusted based on the class time availability).
Here are some ways to get started…If you have a child or children in school, ask if they have some time for a brief presentation for inventions/innovations/entrepreneurship during the school year. Or if you know anyone that does have a child in school and see if they would like to introduce you to the teacher. You can also offer to volunteer your story experience and advice to the school officials and let them know what you have to share with the students. Offer the same to your public libraries and local government offices.
You have the gift of being an innovator, inventor, entrepreneur, so share your gift with the present and “plant the seeds of innovation” with the next generation.
Inventor Coach for all ages!