How do we motivate today’s children to become tomorrow’s movers and shakers in the world of innovation? The answer might be simpler than it sounds. Children have a huge advantage over adults in the creativity department. Children are not predisposed to conclusions that something is impossible, or that there is only one way of doing it. To a child, superheroes are real, and so are their powers. And this is the time to open their minds to the world of new innovations through invention.
I have three young children of my own, and they are always coming up with new ideas. Some of those ideas might not be feasible – at least not today (“Dad, I want to invent a car that flies over this traffic”). But imagine if yesterday’s inventors had been told that “it can’t be done.”
When most of us were growing up, our parents would have laughed at the idea that someday nearly everyone would be carrying around a pocket-size device, not only for making phone calls, but capable of performing complex computer operations that even some desktop computers could not perform at the time. Never mind that this “futuristic device” would be giving us step-by-step directions to the nearest coffee shop, taking high-definition photographs, recording video on-the-go, and the list goes on. Today’s reality would have seemed like nothing more than a child’s fantasy.
Innovation is often born of a curious mind. And children have some of the most curious minds around.
So what can you do as a librarian or someone involved with your local children’s library to help spread the word? Let me introduce USPTO KIDS!
The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) recently revamped their entire kid’s section to bring it into the 21st century. The new website features a section for kids, complete with coloring pages and even pamphlets that explain how to make and launch a model paper rocket, along with directions for making other inventions. The section for kids introduces elementary school age children to the world of inventions through characters such as Ms. Pat Pending and her robot cat Gears, and to the world of trademarks through characters such as Mark Trademan and his friend T.Markey.
The new website also features a section for teens, including biographies of teenagers who have recently received their very own patents. Teens can watch videos and play interactive games to “spot the invention.”
For librarians, the new website includes a variety of educational resources to help guide parents and teachers. Hands-on materials help link the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) education curriculum to real-life innovations. These resources are categorized for elementary school, middle school, and high school age students.
Of course, if you are searching for more ideas, the USPTO KIDS site also includes links to other sites, including many free government resources that are geared toward introducing children to the exciting world of invention.
It is important to encourage children of all ages to explore new ideas. Today’s children are the inventors of tomorrow. Visit USPTO KIDS for ideas on how to bring the world of innovation to a library near you. And if you need another reason, remember that May is National Inventor’s Month!
Our guest blogger today Mark Trenner. Mark lives in Colorado with his wife and their three children, who regularly visit the local libraries to read about new things. He is an intellectual property (IP) law attorney, and works with leading edge inventors at his Denver-area patent law firm. For more information, view educational videos about patents and invention on his YouTube channel.
Please note that as a guest post, the views expressed here do not represent the official position of ALA or ALSC.
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