Advancing Invention Education and Creating the Next Generation of Innovators

Advancing Invention Education and Creating the Next Generation of Innovators

Special topic issue explores cutting-edge educational programs that promote creativity and innovation, teach students to think like inventors, and prepare young people to solve real-world problems.

TAMPA, Fla., April 1, 2019 /PRNewswire/ — Arguably, nothing has a greater impact on society than invention. One need only imagine life without the printing press, the automobile, antibiotics or the computer to realize how invention impacts our lives in ways great and small. Despite the primacy of invention, efforts to actively support the development of young people as inventors are relatively new and the results of those efforts largely understudied.

The latest issue of Technology and Innovation, Journal of the National Academy of Inventors® (20:3) (full text) seeks to remedy this lack of attention by focusing on the structure, execution and results of local and national invention education efforts from primary school through higher education.

“These new instructional approaches respond to the need for creative problem solvers who draw on expertise from multiple disciplines, cultural knowledge and a diverse range of lived experiences to construct innovative solutions to real-world challenges,” said Dr. Stephanie Couch, executive director of Lemelson-MIT and co-editor of this special topic issue of T&I. “The growing dialogue about invention education assumes that the creativity and inventiveness needed to create new and novel, useful and unique solutions is something that can be nurtured and cultivated in people of all ages and from diverse walks of life.”

On the cover of this special topic issue on invention education, Andrei Iancu, Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), interacts with students at Camp Invention. Camp Invention, featured in the issue’s USPTO contribution, is the flagship invention education program run by the National Inventors Hall of Fame (NIHF).

This issue features articles by senior leaders at organizations such as Lemelson-MIT, NAI Fellows, and representatives from NAI Member Institutions, including: Boston College; Georgia Institute of Technology; Michigan State University; University of California, Irvine; University of California, Santa Barbara; and University of South Florida.

The issue is divided into four sections.The first section, titled Program Designs for Developing Creativity and Inventiveness, features two articles that describe ways faculty are conceptualizing and designing new learning opportunities for college-age students. A third article in this section examines linkages among arts, crafts, design and patenting behavior.

The second section, Research Within Innovation Education Programs, defines what invention education consists of, examines ways of teaching as an invention educator and explores the implications of particular actions for student learning.

The third section is titled Theoretical and Epistemological Stances Underpinning Invention Education Programs. The article in this section describes the design and implementation of a developing Navy workforce program that incorporates many of the processes and practices employed by inventors.

The fourth and final section, Youth Action Researchers, makes visible the research finding of two high school students who have taken a reflexive stance by researching their own efforts to teach robotics to third graders.

In addition, this issue includes an article by the USPTO on the major invention education efforts of the National Inventors Hall of Fame, a profile of UCLA scientist and STEM education philanthropist Dr. Henry Samueli, NAI Fellow, and a spotlight on the University of South Florida’s National Academy of Inventors Chapter.

The National Academy of Inventors is a member organization comprising U.S. and international universities, and governmental and non-profit research institutes, with over 4,000 individual inventor members and Fellows spanning more than 250 institutions worldwide. It was founded in 2010 to recognize and encourage inventors with patents issued from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, enhance the visibility of academic technology and innovation, encourage the disclosure of intellectual property, educate and mentor innovative students, and translate the inventions of its members to benefit society. The NAI publishes the multidisciplinary journal, Technology and Innovation. 

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