A blood-glucose test strip dispenser that can help people with diabetes ensure accurate results. A child car seat innovation that could save more lives. A wind turbine that generates energy for electric vehicles.
What do these three innovations all have in common?
“The first is that, if I had a magic wand and could immediately bring all of these products to market, they’d undoubtedly make the world a better place,” said Nick Briere, co-founder of Invention Convention Worldwide, a K-12 program focused on invention education.
“But,” he added, “the thing that I find perhaps most impressive is that none of these inventors are even in high school yet … at least not at the time of competition. They’re just beginning their journeys of invention.”
These inventions are, quite literally, the brainchildren of children – ideas conceived by elementary and middle schoolers that made an impression at the 2019 National Invention Convention in Dearborn, Michigan.
“What surprises me is just how worldly and compassionate our students continue to be,” said Briere. “Given the power to choose anything they want, you might expect students to create inventions that solve problems related to chores or games or other activities more specific to the life of a child.
“Just look at the Koch Young Visioneers … each of these inventions has a real and measurable way to improve entire communities.”
For their ingenuity, the students behind these big ideas earned the Young Visioneer Award from Koch Industries, which included an all-expenses-paid invitation to visit Koch research and development facilities across the country to get personal feedback on their designs, learn how to make their inventions even better, and file provisional patents to protect their big ideas.
At each innovation facility, Koch engineers planned a day especially for each Young Visioneer. Danny, who visited Molex Automotive, went on a top-secret innovation lab tour. Morgan, who visited Phillips-Medisize, experienced a personalized industrial design and human factors brainstorm. Aanya and Florian, who visited SRG Global, performance tested prototypes of fan blades 3D printed specifically for them and their invention.
Without a curriculum like Invention Convention in classrooms across the country, ideas like these might never have been dreamt up, explored and developed. Fortunately, the program has seen solid growth over the last five years, reaching more than 100,000 participating students across seven countries. Students just like Aanya, Danny, Florian and Morgan.
Get to know these Young Visioneers and their inventions in their own words in the videos and stories above, and see how Koch businesses are helping take STEAM education beyond the classroom and into the innovation lab.