Innovation in the Hands of Kids

by Lynda Koster

Innovation in the Hands of Kids

“I am an inventor!”

“…I can’t hear you!”

[Shouts from the crowd]

“I AM AN INVENTOR!!”

This is how my day started last Saturday at the UConn campus, as I watched hundreds of young inventors eagerly await their inventions to be judged at the 31st Annual Connecticut Invention Convention.

If you ever feel overwhelmed by the challenges we face in the world…and wonder if we have what it takes to solve for them now and in the future…all you need to do is visit this event.

The Connecticut Invention Convention (CIC) is an award winning, internationally recognized, 501(c)(3) nonprofit educational program designed to develop and enhance critical thinking skills in children in grades K-8 through invention, innovation and entrepreneurship, while encouraging their interest in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). The CIC is all about educating students in the process of invention by having students work on their own unique problems. This is where it starts.

What a crowd! The inspiration and energy was so great that it was hard to sit in my seat. As the convention got started, I heard everyone welcomed by,

Welcome to the land of champions. Congratulations for your creativity and for creating something no one has thought of before…”

A buzz swept the stadium with students ready to jump up from their seats to show their inventions to the judges (who are patented inventors themselves – several times over).

How inspiring.

We talk about, hear about, and read articles about the importance of  STEM and STEAM in the classroom along with the importance of “action learning.” Actually witnessing this take place in practice and in our cities really reinforces their importance. This is our future in the making.

It is clear, that the CIC, along with its teachers, judges, sponsors, participants and their supportive families and community members are all in the process of changing the world.

770 Student Inventor Submissions
Walking onto the floor, one could lose all sense of time completely engaged in reviewing 770 submissions. Inventions such as The Arctic Breeze, Paste Pods, The Cheetah Buddy, The Shower Brush, The Undercover Light, The Tippy Sensor…and the list goes on.  Just look at this list of award winners and their inventions. I kept having to remind myself that these were K-8th graders!

Inventor of the Tippy Sensor, Katie Corbett

The Tippy Sensor
by Katie Corbett
After a beeping noise caught my attention, I went over to one of the stations where I had the opportunity to meet Katie Corbett. Katie is a recognized inventor who received a certificate for her Tippy Sensor (Congratulations Katie!)

The Tippy Sensor alerts students that they have tipped their chair back too far. She said that her invention will make the classroom safer, reduce distractions and help students break a bad habit.

This is Katie’s solution to a problem that she sees in the classroom, which was also supported by additional research conducted through a survey.

She showed me the components, demonstrated how it worked and shared her inspiration, while her proud family shared their support and gave me permission to post her invention and picture here.

Lessons Learned
As the day progressed, there were speakers and stories of young inventors who productized their inventions and brought them to market. From lessons of the past through current day success stories.

The speakers went on to highlight several lessons learned and some common threads to these inventions,

1. They were highly creative
2. Each identified a need based on a problem
3. Many make the world a better place
4. Some happen by accidents
5. Sometimes it takes more than one person

The message that all of the speakers reinforced was that there is no greater need for the world today than for creative thinkers inventing.

We need creative thinkers!

Thank you Helen Charov and to the entire team of teachers, judges, sponsors, students, volunteers and community associated with CIC – for your dedication and work to building a strong foundation for tomorrow.

We need you!

Innovation Excellence is proud to feature The Connecticut Invention Convention as one of our #InnovationStories and welcomed participant in our Innovation Cities Tour.


Lynda Koster is the Programs Partner and Integrator 3.0 for Innovation Excellence. Living and working at the intersection of creativity, data and technology, her core expertise is strategic development and implementation planning, providing integrated business, and marketing solutions to clients. She is a hands-on explorer and life-long learner focused on new and evolving trends and innovations that impact the future of business, marketing and people. She is author of Business Reads Today.