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Invention Convention

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The Invention Convention is a statewide competition that promotes important life and work skills for Maine middle school students. Throughout the school year, students work to identify and solve problems by using a systematic approach to innovation. After competing against their peers at a local level, top students will be invited to attend the state conference where they compete for the top invention awards.  The competition is open to any school offering grades 6, 7, and/or 8, as well as children who are homeschooled.

The curriculum will teach and lead students through four steps:

  1. Identify a Problem. Students begin the project by identifying a real-world problem through the use of a variety of methods including traditional research and insight mining. They are encouraged to draw from their experiences and learnings to identify the largest and most frequent problems people experience. The problem they choose should not only be meaningful to others, it should also be one they are passionate about solving.
  2. Generate Ideas for Solutions. Using the reliable Innovation Engineering® tools and system for idea generation, students create “meaningfully unique” ideas for solutions the problem they identified. A meaningfully unique idea is one that solves a problem in a better, more efficient way. Through the use of the Innovation Engineering® ideation tools, students will have the chance to leverage the diversity of their peers and generate ideas they can get excited about creating.
  3. Make it Real. Once students choose the solution they are most excited about, they must begin the process of making it reality.  As part of this stage, they make the idea real by articulating it through written concept pitches and creating a prototype.  The most important part of this is the documentation of the invention process, which is achieved through an inventor’s notebook and a mock provisional patent application.  Rapid cycles of learning should be stressed so students may process their learning as they happen and make continuous improvements to their idea.  Students are encouraged to learn through research, surveying, and prototyping, and to adapt accordingly as they progress.
  4. Present the 3 Ps. Once the student has created their invention, the final step is to present the “three Ps” – Problem, Promise, and Proof.  Students must provide answers to the following questions: What problem is being solved? What is the promise the invention can make? Why should customers believe this promise?  They prepare to present these answers in oral, written, and visual formats.

For more information about the Maine Invention Convention, visit or call Angela Marcolini at the UMaine Foster Center for Student Innovation at 207-581-1454 or email

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