Pittsburgh kid-size inventors wanted for worldwide challenge

Using cardboard, glue and recyclable odds and ends, kids participating in the annual Inventor’s Challenge create all sorts of innovative products.

The mission of the worldwide contest is to find a way to make the world a better place. In past years, kids have proven themselves up to the job.

The All-You-Need Cane for seniors, for example, includes handy improvements like holders for eyeglasses, keys, and a flashlight. With Driveway Skis, people can ski without hills or snow. The Card-Go Caddy makes it easier for kids to play cards on long car trips.

The 2018 Inventor’s Challenge, presented by AT&T Aspire and Imagination.org, launches Feb. 1.

“Kids are so creative,” says Smeeta Singh, director of operations for Imagination.org. “Ideally, they’ll really think outside of the box and determine what is a problem in their community and help solve that.”

The Pittsburgh-based Grable Foundation provided funding to Imagination.org, which hopes to add new Pittsburgh chapters to its 150 branches worldwide. Organizers are looking for the city to become a “hot spot of activity” for imagination.

The Inventor’s Challenge fosters vital skills like creativity and empathy in kids, Singh says. Participation gives kids the opportunity to experiment and take risks. While they’re inventing, kids work on those all-important STEM skills in science, technology, engineering, and math.

Organizers suggest following a five-point journey in the invention process:

Inspire: This is where the spark of an idea comes from. Ask yourself, what problem bothers you? What inspires you?

Imagine: What can you do to change that problem? Here is where you come up with all kinds of crazy ideas. Let your imagination run wild.

Build: Pick an idea, the jump in and just do it.

Play: Here is where you play with your idea and make improvements. Treat failure as a step in the creation process.

Share: Tell your story and let your invention inspire others.

Kids are asked to submit a short video that explains and demonstrates their invention. The submission deadline is Feb. 28.

Four individual winners – one per grade category – will receive a tablet and BitsBox. A group prize of $1,000 will be given to the top group to develop their idea further.

Click here to view videos and inventions from prior Inventor’s Challenges and be amazed!