Is your child a tinkerer, a dreamer, a builder and fount of ideas? Do they see a problem, whether it is a hole in a sock or a hole in the ozone, and want to find a solution for it? Then you should know about the Spark!Lab Invent It Challenge. A partnership between Cricket Media and the Smithsonian’s Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation, this annual contest gives youngsters around the world the opportunity to think creatively and make something with real-world applications.
This year’s challenge asks students to design a planet-friendly solution for current environmental issues, with the emphasis on water scarcity, climate change, air or water pollution, endangered species or natural-resource loss. Participants need to identify a problem, conduct research, sketch their ideas, build a prototype, test the product, refine it and market it to potential users.
Individuals and teams can compete in four age groups: 5-7, 8-10, 11-13, and 14 and older. A panel of Smithsonian and Cricket Media judges will select the winners, who will receive a variety of prizes, including a patent consultation.
Winners have come from around the globe. Last year, Southern California was represented as students from L.A.’s Notre Dame Academy Elementary School got the top prize in the 5-7-year-old team category for their Plant Saver project. The school also earned two of the 20 Honorable Mentions in last year’s competition.
This year’s deadline is March 18. To get complete entry guidelines and official rules, visit challenges.epals.com/inventit2017.