On National Inventors Day, meet young inventors like Charlotte Hober, inventor of the Emotional Emojis game
February 11, 2022
Invention Convention Worldwide (ICW) works to encourage K-12 students to explore science, technology, engineering, math + innovation + entrepreneurship and “invent their own future” through hands-on projects. Not only does Invention Convention host competitions on the local, state, national and international levels, but the organization also works to feature student inventors year-round. One such way they feature students is with ‘Kid Inventor Friday,’ which includes the following videos.
Note: For the sake of time, watch just the beginning of each video and move to the discussion questions. If students have more time, they should feel free to watch the entire video since they are absolutely amazing!
Summary: Charlotte Hober invented the Emotional Emojis board game last year, as a third grader. The Emotional Emojis is a four-person game for all ages, especially children, designed to help express our emotions. Throughout the game, players will practice discussing, recalling and interpreting emotions. It even teaches players about mindfulness. Throughout the invention process, Charlotte worked on getting feedback and working through prototypes. To other inventors out there she says, “Try your best, never give up, and have fun.”
- Why did Charlotte decide to make this game about emotions?
- What do you think this game is helpful in teaching? Why is that important?
Bridgette Castronovo and Taylor McNeal
Summary: After reflecting on their own lives, high school sophomores Taylor McNeal and Bridgette Castronovo realized there was a big problem with plastic waste usage- especially with straws. Through their science class at school, the two decided to embark on inventing a solution: a biodegradable straw. Using skills and knowledge from their Biology class and an abundance of outside research, the two decided on recycled corn husks as their base materials.
After trial and error the duo also added a chitosan outer layer, an abundant biopolymer. The straw has found immense success both as a product and in competitions. Castronovo and McNeal won Georgia Tech’s K-12 Inventure Prize, a patent award and currently are working with patent attorneys to secure their own patent. To young inventors out there embarking on their own journey, Taylor says: “You should have the right mentality. You can’t quit when things get really difficult. You never know where your ideas can take you.”
- What was the process that Castronovo and McNeal went through to produce their final prototype? How might you describe the different phases of their inventing process?
- The pair looked in on their own lives to find a problem to solve, what are 1-2 issues around sustainability in your life that you might want to fix?
Summary: From homemade Christmas gifts with cardboard and duct tape to an international business, Ethan Klein built his family’s company, ‘3DuxDesign,’ from the ground up. Klein and his sister have always been building things from scratch, and saw the potential in the market to produce a product that allowed for easy modeling. Together, Klein and his family produced what they call an “educational modeling system,” which seeks to combine STEM education with art and design.
After 10-15 designs and lots of market testing, the Klein family’s product now is patented, sold on amazon and marketed internationally. To other inventors out there Ethan says, “if you have an idea, pursue it.”
- What were some of the most critical pieces of Ethan’s inventing process that helped him improve his design?
- What were some of the tools in Ethan’s community that allowed him to make his product?
Summary: Born out of desire to use his creativity to help others, Arthur Zhang designed the award-winning AWARE (AI Enabled Web of Sensors for Anticipation of Ruinous Events) warning system to help people around the world anticipate natural disasters. After experiencing a natural disaster himself, Zhang felt there wasn’t enough warning and decided to solve the problem himself.
His 3D printed sphere contains sensors that take in data on temperature, pressure, humidity and carbon dioxide levels. The spheres are even equipped with speakers to give out directions specific to natural disasters in the event that one happens. While AWARE has been accurate in predictions thus far, Zhang wants to continue to innovate the product by aiming to predict weather at certain times of the day. Zhang encourages others to join the Young Inventors Program, citing that it “[had] had a big impact on who I am today.”
- What are some of the challenges that Zhang faced? How did he overcome them?
- How can you employ the strategies Zhang used in your life or inventing journey?
Summary: In her own words, Jyothikaa Ramann says, “Posture plays a role in every aspect of our lives.” For years Ramann watched her family deteriorate from a series of spinal cord related anomalies. As just a fifth grader she decided to tackle the problem. What started as a little buzzer that alerted you to when you were slouching is now a full circuit board which detects spinal angles on the X,Y, and Z plane to help customers stay sitting or standing in their ideal posture.
Over her five years of development, Ramann has taken into account medical statistics as well as vast amounts of research to create this product which is now used by hospitals, nursing homes and hospices. Inventing helped Ramann come out of her shell, and to other aspiring inventors she says, “Have confidence in yourself. Once you have that confidence, you have that passion and the willpower to take you on a journey. I would just say go for it.”
- What steps did Ramann take to continue to improve her device?
- What were some of the benefits of inventing that Ramann found outside of producing a product?
Interested in getting started in invention? Check out Invention Convention Worldwide’s (ICW) new InHub site with resources, lesson plans and more!
CiCi Curran, NewsHour Classroom’s intern and a sophomore at Amherst College, wrote this daily news lesson; NewsHour’s education producer Vic Pasquantonio edited it.
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