For the little Albert Einstein or Leonardo Da Vinci within your child, the perfect event to unleash inventing skills and ideas, is an invention convention. These are school-level competitions, where budding inventors can step up and show their talent in creating a device or item. An invention convention is the best platform to showcase your child's creativity and knowledge, and for him/her to compete with peers in a friendly atmosphere. When a child is encouraged to think out, develop ideas and actually create them at such a young age, it makes a profound impact on his/hers thinking process. Creating or designing an invention is a great learning experience for a child, as it combines theory and ideas with practical know-how and development skills.
An invention convention can be at a single school, a district-wide competition or at state level. And they are organized for all school grades, to keep the competition fair yet intense. But what can one invent, for such a contest? Most competitions are centered on older children and higher school grades. But for younger kids, like the second grade, project ideas should be simple to create, with an imaginative approach.
Second Grade Invention Convention Ideas
So what are possible invention convention ideas for kids to develop? Here are a few suggestions and tips on helping your child with his/hers invention:
✏ See a need, fill a need: Discuss with your child, any needs or wants, he/she feels could be fulfilled with a handy device. With respect to your child's age, keep it simple. Second graders can't be expected to write programs or build robots. Example of a need, could be a glow-in-the-dark attachable piece for people to wear on their clothing or fix on bikes, while traveling on the road in the dark. If you live in a place that gets a lot of sunlight, inventing a sundial as an electricity-free way to tell the time, is a nifty project.
✏ Be creative with area of inventions: It need not be something scientific or technical. How about a healthy sugar-free cookie recipe? Or home remedies to clean difficult stains on clothes? An interesting invention is a formula for invisible ink, which can be used to write secret messages on different surfaces.
✏ Research and results explained: Pick an area or topic and carry out research to note trends or patterns that are unique and would make a difference in that area. The key here is the topic itself should be different. A humorous example is from the Peanuts comic strip, where for the school science fair, Lucy researches how her brother Linus is dependent on his blanket. A more realistic example could be studying household pests like cockroaches, and what conditions make them thrive. Other research ideas include:
- The study of how sound travel through different objects (use glass, metal and paper objects to demonstrate)
- Study of different environments and the different insects that live in them
- How do different colors affect people's moods
- Creating an ant farm to show how ants are Nature's miracle workers
- Researching how food spoils and at what rate
✏ Invent something based on personal experience: A personal need or touch, motivates and inspires an inventor like nothing else. Household needs or a personal twist to a toy or item, can make good inventions.
✏ Try to invent based on current social concerns: The best example of a socially aware invention, is the environment. Any invention that is sensitive to this issue and provides an earth-friendly way to do a task or function, is sure to impress the judges. For example, a model of an eco-friendly house or car. Or a prototype of a better waste disposal system, which aids in recycling.
✏ Encourage and be there for your child in all stages: A child's focus and drive might wane, especially during the inventing process. Your job as the parent, is to maintain the correct level of energy and focus. Practice with your child, for presentation and explanation of the invention. Be helpful, not hurtful. Criticism destroys confidence and sarcastic comments are remembered by a child, well into his/hers adulthood.
✏ Don't be a helicopter parent: Remember it is your child's project, not yours. He/she should be directly involved in it, you are just the guiding force. Be helpful to an extent, don't end up doing the entire thing. It is during events like these, that parenting skills kick into overdrive.
As parents, your child looks to you for the correct way to behave and interact in society. So don't interfere or let personal rivalries get in the way. Encourage a competitive spirit in your child, but don't let it get too aggressive. Such school events are meant as a way to encourage creativity, not one-upmanship. Keep it that way. Teach your kids how to compete in a dignified manner and if they don't win, emphasize that it doesn't mean their invention wasn't any good.
Tips for Organizing an Invention Convention
Considering the young age of students, a teacher's role involves both organizing and encouraging invention progress. While the projects will be created at home, a teacher has to be updated with progress and status of individual inventions, as well as be clear and firm with guidelines and rules. Some tips, as to a teacher's part in this process are:
✔ To initiate the inventing process, establish rules and regulations, as to which projects are allowed and expected, restrictions if any and what additional material is required for presentation.
✔ Set a deadline for idea submissions, with at least a description and possible uses, as the preliminary submission for the project. Maintain a record of number of projects and progress on a weekly basis.
✔ A week before the event, have a mock convention, within the classroom itself, so the students get an idea of what is going to happen. Explain what judges ask and look for. Repeat rules and regulations once again.
You can never learn enough, and no learning is complete without putting it to practical use. That being said, there is an inventor nesting inside every child, for science, for art and for things you'd never thought you need. It's events like this, that can encourage even the quietest child to express him/herself and parents and teachers are often surprised at a child's hidden talent. Hopefully, the above second grade project ideas will help you and your child, to do the best in case of such a competition.