Welcome back to another year of inventing, Iowa! We are excited to announce that we will be hosting the Invent Iowa State Convention on April 19, 2021. Due to the ongoing nature of the COVID-19 pandemic, students will participate virtually.
Invent Iowa state finalists have a strong track record of going on to win big at the National Invention Convention! For the past four consecutive years, Iowa students have brought home national prizes. Your future inventor could be next!
Our website has been updated to reflect dates and deadlines for the 2020-2021 academic year. If you plan to participate, be sure to mark your calendars for these important dates.
The free National Invention Convention curriculum can be accessed here.
Please feel free to pass along the information below to other educators or parents who may be interested in learning more about invention education.
Questions? We’re here to help at firstname.lastname@example.org!
Congratulations to 6-year-old Charles Smith (Ottumwa Community School District) for his appearance on Good Morning America! Charles is a winner of our 2019 Invent Iowa competition who went on to win 1st place in his grade level at the National Invention Convention!
Charles invented the Benge Beacon, a device to help firefighters find the exits in a smoky house. See his invention in action and watch his national television debut! (Trust us, you won’t regret it.)
Charles also won $5,000 in seed money and a mentorship opportunity with entrepreneur Chelsea Hirschhorn through the SSK Kidventor $25,000 giveaway! 🤩 (Watch the announcement here: https://gma.abc/2O3XmJW)
Looking for a creative and fun way to kick off the year? If so, consider adding the National Invention Convention curriculum to your lesson plans. This is free, open-access curriculum that supports the type of critical thinking necessary to participate in programs like Invent Iowa. The framework of the curriculum is developed around the 7 steps of the Invention Process: Identifying, Understanding, Ideating, Designing, Building, Testing, and Communicating.
The curriculum was designed by the STEMIE Coalition. STEMIE is an education framework that elevates youth invention and entrepreneurship education to a core part of K-12 education. It contains lesson plans, rubrics, assessments, and other resources. Students have the opportunity to think creatively while using the invention process to design and test their work. It is a great way to help students better understand ways of solving real-world problems that they encounter on a daily basis.
Find the National Invention Convention curriculum here.
Charles Smith (Ottumwa Community School District) won 1st place at the Kindergarten grade level for his “Benge Beacon,” a bright light to mark exits in homes to help firefighters and residents locate them more easily.
Dylan Hunt, Thomas Nugent, and Rebecca Yanacheak (8th grade, Adel-Desoto-Minburn Community School District) won a Patent Application Award for their “Eazy Shuck,” which makes shucking corn an easier and safer process.
Kelty Raap & Sadie Takes (4th grade, St. Pius X Catholic School), won an Inventor Communication Award for “Best Pitch” while presenting their “I C Safety Straw,” a straw made of ice to reduce plastic use.
A full list of national winners is available here. Congratulations to all who competed, and especially to our Iowa representatives. We are proud of your hard work and inspiring ideas!
On April 15, the Belin-Blank Center hosted the 2019 Invent Iowa State Invention Convention. It was a day full of energy and excitement as young inventors from schools across Iowa advanced from their local invention conventions to the state competition. We were pleased to see so many creative solutions to the everyday problems that students noticed in the world around them!
Our generous sponsors included McKee, Voorhees & Sease, P.L.C. and Integrated DNA Technologies. Representatives from each – Christine Lebron-Dykeman and Mark Behlke, respectively – delivered keynote presentations to inspire Iowa’s next generation of innovators. Fourth-grader Manasvi Devi Reddy from the Linn-Mar Community School District won the McKee, Voorhees & Sease, P.L.C. Agricultural Invention Award for her “Environmental Saver.” Her invention uses farming by-products to make paper, thereby reusing discarded materials and reducing the number of trees being cut down.
Inventors competed in two divisions: Kindergarten – 5th grade, and 6th – 8th grade. Winners qualified to compete next month at the National Invention Convention at the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan. The Belin-Blank Center awarded first place winners from each division an expense-paid trip to the national competition.
Quill Orth (Lewis Central Community School District), last year’s winner of the 3rd – 5th grade division, went on to compete at the National Invention Convention, where he won the 3M Innovative Materials Award for his “Hotspot Chicken Insulating Cream,” which prevents frostbite on chickens’ combs. Quill shared his story and words of congratulations and encouragement with this year’s inventors.
2019 Winners from the Kindergarten – 5th grade division:
1st place: Kelty Raap & Sadie Takes (4th grade, St. Pius X Catholic School), for their “I C Safety Straw,” a straw made of ice to reduce plastic use.
2nd place: Luke Amaro & Lexi Geiskemper (5th grade, Alburnett Community School District), for their “Absorbo-Rocks.” These are rocks made of absorbent material that will capture excess water in fields and let it back out when the weather becomes hot and dry.
3rd place:Charles Smith (Kindergarten, Ottumwa Community School District) for his “Benge Beacon,” a bright light to mark exits in homes to help firefighters and residents locate them more easily.
Winners from the 6th – 8th grade division:
1st place: Grace Brand & Sara Schutte (6th grade, Pleasant View Community School District) for “The Noise Neutralizer,” a flashing light system to alert people when the noise level is too loud
2nd place: Dylan Hunt, Thomas Nugent, and Rebecca Yanacheak (8th grade, Adel-Desoto-Minburn Community School District) for their “Eazy Shuck,” which makes shucking corn an easier and safer process.
3rd place: Chloe Goedken & Ellie Kronlage (6th grade, St. Francis Xavier Catholic School) for “The Adjust A-Q,” a pool cue that can be adjusted in size to avoid hitting the walls around a pool table.
Congratulations to all who competed, and keep inventing, Iowa!
Please find below a list of dates-at-a-glance for this year’s Invention Conventions, as well as quick links to resources for both Invent Iowa and the National Invention Convention. All the below information is also available on our website at belinblank.org/inventiowa.
online registration opens
competition materials due
Invent Iowa Invention Convention
May 30–June 2
National Invention Convention & Entrepreneurship Expo
For your convenience, the National Invention Convention has developed a logbook that we encourage you to use to guide your students through the invention process as they prepare for Invent Iowa. If you are looking for additional classroom resources, the National Invention Convention has also developed a free online curriculum for teachers like you to use as part of their invention program. Both can be found below.
We’re excited to announce the STEMIE Coalition, the host of the National Invention Convention and Entrepreneurship Expo, have developed a K-12 Youth Invention Curriculum available for use by Invent Iowa teachers!
This comprehensive online invention and entrepreneurship curriculum has been released in beta version, and will be in development for the next few months. Each week, new lesson plans including videos, alignment to standards, activities, and slideshows are added, with material ranging from lasers to a shark tank styled activity. All resources are freely available for you to adapt to meet the needs of your inventors. You can access the free curriculum here: http://www.nationalinventioncurriculum.org/.
An appealing refrain plus a catchy tune find their way into our heads and often stick. This is exactly what happened to me during a recent Zumba class when the refrain, “What’s wrong with being confident” from Demi Lovato’s song “Confident” started. During Zumba, my thoughts are typically absorbed with upcoming Belin-Blank Center programs or events, the director’s message, or a research project. These thoughts often flit from one to the next and back and forth like a moth in a room with lights on opposite sides of the space. It’s no big surprise that these simple words, with the subtle, yet profound message, infiltrated my mind.
First I thought about two special events hosted in March. The month started with the highly successful, Junior Science and Humanities Symposium (JSHS), at which 13 high school students confidently presented their research findings to an audience of nearly 200 teachers and students from around Iowa and 5 were selected to attend the National JSHS. We finished March with the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards Recognition Ceremony, where Gold Key, Silver Key, and Honorable Mentions from Iowa were recognized for their creativity.
How wonderful to meet these young, talented, creative, and confident students and – for both programs — to have the support from the national offices of these long-running, prestigious recognition programs.
Everything that we do at the Belin-Blank Center is designed to nurture potential and inspire excellence and thereby support the development of self-confidence. We live up to our tagline through well-established programs and service as well as through new, innovative programming:
Invent Iowa, a comprehensive, statewide program developed to support educators in promoting the invention process as part of their regular kindergarten through high school curriculum.
“Confidence” is a longish song, one reason it’s good for a Zumba warm up! My thoughts jumped to a current research project, based upon previous Belin-Blank Center research findings that investigated the differences in the attributions boys make for success in math or science compared to girls.
The answer to the research question “What attributions do gifted boys and girls make for success – and failure—in math and science?” was juxtaposed with Lovato’s words and appealing tune: “What’s wrong with being confident?”
The respondents in the study were asked to choose among ability, effort, luck, or task difficulty as attributions for success and failure. Ability and effort were overwhelmingly the two categories selected (these two attributional choices accounted for 75% or more of the responses for success in math or science). However, the two choices with the highest percentages for ability for both math and science varied significantly for boys and girls: 44% of the boys chose ability as their reason for their success in math and 42.5% made the same choice for their success in science. The next highest choice for boys was effort, 32% and 37%, respectively. Girls’ choices, however, varied significantly from boys: 26% of girls chose ability as the attribution for their success in math and 23% chose ability as their attribution for success in science. Nearly twice as many girls (50%) chose effort as their attribution for success in math and more than twice as many (55%) chose effort as their attribution for success in science.
Attributional research is but one facet of the complex topic known broadly as motivation, an area that is extremely important to our understanding of patterns that could impact, positively or negatively, the performance of students. Attribution theory represents a well-researched cognitive model. However, despite its relevance to our understanding of gifted students, attributional research specifically investigating the beliefs that gifted students have for their academic successes and failures has not been thoroughly researched. Results from the study mentioned above are much more extensive than reported here; however, they are the foundation for a new investigation of attributional choice regarding success and failure from a current generation of students.
For educators and psychologists to be effective in designing curricular or counseling interventions, it is important to know an individual’s motivational mindset. It is also important for society to recognize these mindsets. As we concluded a decade ago, “We see potential negatives for girls [or boys] who do not accurately recognize their academic abilities. They may be more tentative about undertaking challenges or putting themselves in competitive situations” (Assouline et al., 2006, p. 293).
These findings, along with our new research, lead back to the question: What’s wrong with being confident?
Students will need to complete an online registration form. They will also be asked to print a cover sheet to include with their inventor’s log that will be mailed to the Belin-Blank Center.
New this year: Payment will be $20per invention. For example, if a group of students are working on their invention together they will register one invention as a group.
After inventions go through the adjudication process, students will be notified on March 21 if they will be advancing to the State Invention Convention on May 7.
For the first time, students who win at the State Invention Convention level will have the opportunity to travel to Washington D.C. to participate in the National Invention Convention at the United States Patent and Trade Office!
Invent Iowa is back! This year the State Invention Convention will return with new features. Inventors are invited to create inventions related to the convention theme, water sustainability. Within the context of the convention theme, there will also be invention categories that will include social inventions; technological inventions; and a gadgets, gizmos and goods category. However, if you have an invention that does not fall into the invention theme, you are welcome to submit it under the open category. You do not need to be in talented and gifted program to participate in Invent Iowa. All inventors are welcome!
We are happy to share inventiveness around the state!
Local invention conventions showcased the work of students in Ames and Waterloo. Click here to read more about inventiveness in Ames. To see Waterloo students demonstrating their inventions, click here.
If you are wondering how creating inventions supports students’ learning, this impressive young maker will show you how in this video clip!
The Belin-Blank Center will not be hosting the State Invent Iowa Competition during the 2014–2015 academic year. The statewide competition will return for the 2015-2016 academic year and subsequent years.
We are taking this opportunity to conduct a needs assessment of the Invent Iowa Program. Invent Iowa, developed in 1987, is one of the Iowa’s original comprehensive statewide STEM programs. One of our goals in conducting a needs assessment is to build a stronger, more innovative program that will nurture the inventive potential of Iowa’s young makers, design-thinkers, and doers.
We will unveil the updated Invent Iowa Program and State Competition in the Fall of 2015. However, in the meantime you can still conduct your own Invention Conventions in your schools! If you have any questions or need ideas, please do not hesitate to contact the Belin-Blank Center administrator for Invent Iowa, Dr. Lori Ihrig, at email@example.com.
Make sure to check back to see all the exciting things that will be happening as we reawaken Invent Iowa to inspire excellence!
“By helping our [highly talented] students, we help ourselves, because they hold in their hands not only their own futures but our shared future, as well.”
(p.113) From Richard Rusczyk’s chapter, “Extracurricular Opportunities for Mathematically Gifted Middle School Students” in The Peak in the Middle, Edited by M. Saul, S. G. Assouline, & L. J. Sheffield (2010).
This issue of Vision features the multiple opportunities at the Belin-Blank Center for gifted students– either in the competitions hosted this past spring (Invent Iowa, Scholastic Art & Writing Awards, Junior Science Humanities Symposium, or American Regions Mathematics League) or programs for this summer, which will begin on the 16th of June. These opportunities are so much more than a summer activity to keep kids busy! Indeed, they are – often – pivotal to the student’s development of his or her talent area. Schools offer a great deal to our talented students, but it would be impossible for any school – or teacher –to do it all, which is why extracurricular programs are so critical to talent development.
Below, I’ve synthesized three benefits of extracurricular activities for highly capable students from the Rusczyk chapter (see p. 103):
Intensive experiences shared with an outstanding peer group;
Interaction with university-level content experts;
Opportunities for immersion in the specified content domain.
If you will be on the University of Iowa campus on July 25, 2014, from 10 am to noon, I encourage you to stop by the Old Capitol Center for the Secondary Student Training Program (SSTP) poster session. SSTP is, in many ways, the culminating experience of the Belin-Blank Center’s summer student programs. During this 5-week program, highly talented high school students from all over the country conduct research with UI researchers in their labs. Students earn 3 semester hours of university credit and, for many students, this is the defining moment in an academic career.
And, speaking of defining moments ….even though teachers of gifted and talented students have just packed away the final papers from this past school year, their commitment to their students is not packed away. Professional development for educators has already commenced and it’s always a joy to see teachers on campus and/or to learn about their “ah-ha moments” from their online experiences. New this summer are the two one-week Chautauquas, which will feature three workshops during each week. Having once been a teacher of junior high and high schools students, I know first-hand just how valuable these experiences are for teachers. Indeed, the same three benefits for highly capable students apply to the teachers who take the time to attend a summer professional development class or classes.
Whether you are a student, parent, teacher, or colleague, I know that you join me in wishing all of the Belin-Blank Center professionals the very best this summer as we dedicate ourselves to living up to our tag line: Nurturing Potential…Inspiring Excellence.
The 11thWallace Research and Policy Symposium on Talent Development opened on March 23, 2014, to the theme of Optimism. The meaning of the Latin root of the word “optimus” is “best” and that is exactly what the Wallace Symposium did! It brought out the best in the Belin-Blank Center staff, attendees, and presenters.
Since the 1991 inaugural Wallace Symposium, a primary goal has been to build a community of researchers; a secondary goal has been to build a community that brings out the best in the members. Building community means bringing together individuals from related fields who will share ideas and, through openness and dialogue, create the best community of professionals dedicated to research and policy for talent development. An attitude of optimism means that there is trust among community members that promotes creation of the best situation possible given the available resources. With more than 60 featured keynote, invited, and concurrent presentations or posters, and attendees from 10 countries and more than 30 states, all of whom were dedicated to the mission of the Wallace Symposium, how could we miss?
The Wallace Research and Policy Symposium also brought out the best in the entire Belin-Blank Center staff and faculty. The phenomenal teamwork resulted in a hugely successful event, including the accomplishment of three firsts: the symposium’s first time in DC; first-time emphasis on the integration of two critical components of best practices, research and policy; and the first time that the Belin-Blank Center worked with the National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC) to co-host the symposium during their annual state affiliate advocacy summit. NAGC president Tracy Cross succinctly framed the benefit of the collaboration in his message to the NAGC membership: “Attendees of the [Wallace] Symposium learned about both the latest research in several areas of talent development, and also how research can inform practices – all with the goal of ensuring members of our community are well-informed about connections between GT programs, services, and pedagogy and developing the high levels of talent we need in the global economy in every student group.”
On a personal note, I was pleased to deliver the concluding keynote, “Ten Years Later: From A Nation Deceived to A Nation Empowered.” This keynote featured a sneak preview of the forthcoming publication that is an update and revision of the watershed publication, A Nation Deceived.
After completion of such a large program, you may be wondering what’s next at the Belin-Blank Center? We will wrap up Wallace 2014 in the next few weeks and will take a little time to consider our options for Wallace 2016 (including returning to DC). Meanwhile, we continue to provide the excellent services and programs for students and their educators. You can learn about the Junior Science and Humanities Symposium, which took place on February 27 and 28; the March 29thWeekend Institute for Gifted Students; our Arts Scholastic Award Ceremony, scheduled for April 5; and Invent Iowa, scheduled for April 19.
I’ve always found that the season of spring is the epitome of optimism. For 25 years, spring has been the time that the Belin-Blank Center puts the finishing touches on preparations for summer and this year is no different. Summer student program classes, both residential and commuter, are filling up. The professional development opportunities promise to challenge and encourage educators. Stay tuned!
Invent Iowa, one of the premier programs of the Belin-Blank Center at the University of Iowa, serves the needs of talented young inventors. The Invent Iowa Program encourages students to think creatively and solve problems through the invention process. Now in its 27th year, the program has celebrated the work of thousands of students in grades K-12. These novice inventors, whose inventions range from solar stock tank heater and pop can counter to devices that make life easier for those with disabilities, continue to amaze and inspire.
Twenty-four students from across Iowa will be competing for top honors at the State Invent Iowa Meritorious Scholarship Competition to be held on Saturday, April 19, from 12:30-4:20 at the Belin-Blank Center at the University of Iowa in Iowa City. Students will present their inventions to a panel of judges, who will then interview each student and ultimately award six $500.00 College of Engineering Scholarships to the University of Iowa or Iowa State University.
Stay tuned over the next few weeks – we’ll be featuring an invention every day until the State Invent Iowa Meritorious Scholarship Competition!
If you had to suddenly name five creative people, who would come to mind? Artists? Musicians? Scientists? Almost certainly, at least one of the people you named would be an inventor. Helping students learn more about inventing, and the processes for developing their own inventions is a wonderful way for students to both learn about, and experience, creativity. If you are interested in teaching about inventing, but hesitate at the thought of planning curriculum around it, hesitate no further. Invent Iowa has a free guidebook just for you! Invent Iowa, a program of the Belin-Blank Center at the University of Iowa, is designed to support talented young inventors and their teachers. Of course, if you live in Iowa, you can investigate the program itself. But if not, you can benefit from the extensive teaching materials, generously available for download. Just click, and you can download the full Curriculum Guide…
Invent Iowa registration is open! The next date of importance is February 5, 2014, when student competition materials are due to the Belin-Blank Center. Go to www.education.uiowa.edu/belinblank/Students/inventia/ and click on “Registration.” Whether you are a native of Iowa or another state or country, we invite you to participate.
Thirty-six students from across Iowa will be competing for top honors at the Invent Iowa Meritorious Scholarship Competition to be held in Ames, Iowa, on Saturday, April 20, from 1:00–3:30 at the 4-H Youth Extension Building. Students will present their inventions to a panel of judges, who will then interview each student and ultimately award six $500.00 College of Engineering Scholarships to the University of Iowa or Iowa State University.
Back In Stripes – Thatcher Hollis
BG Scooper – Gavin Thorson
Cart Corral – Kaleb Sanders, Kade Myhre
Chair Go – Ezra Manus
Cleat Cleaner – Griffin Maloney, Clayton Nurre
Drag out – Kirsten Walz
EZ Hookup – Connor Mullis, Avery Tauke
Grab-N-Go Chair – Hailee Poland, Malloy Helvie
Hold Your Horses – Maria Hendrickson
Magnetic Dog Collar – Cassandra Smith
Ocean Breathe – Alexandra Poremba
Rock ‘N’ Rope – Noah Allen, Julia Dudgeon
Speed Up, Slow Down Sled – Mathew Watts
Spike Guard – Danika Dodson
The Arm Pain Reliever – Camille Jackson
The One Trip – Calvin Jantzi
The Tackle Table – Kenny Lampman, Andrew Hontz
The Walk n’ Wheel – Allison Ryan, Anna Ford, Addison Smith, Hannah Dunlop, Madison Davis, Leah Pitts, Meredith Ellis, Jayden Cavanaugh, & Caylee Will