Invention Education Today
It is important to note that STEM in and of itself, cannot by definition encompass invention and entrepreneurship education per se. There are two reasons for this:
- There is nothing in the definitions of the underlying STEM processes that could realistically be interpreted as including invention and entrepreneurship education skill sets. Invention and entrepreneurship are their own defined disciplines that can interwork with STEM, but not be subsumed by STEM.
- There is a whole swath of the student population that will grow to become inventors and entrepreneurs even though they had no interest in, and did not take coursework in, STEM. All kids should be inventive and entrepreneurial, but not all kids need to be STEM majors.
There are more than 600 Invention Education programs run in the U.S. each year These programs all follow a rather generic format. Kids are asked to look at the world around them – their world or the greater world of humanity – and find a problem they want to solve, and then they are walked through the process of creating their solution to that problem.
Invention education is highly passionate because it allows kids to solve problems they care about. Invention education is also focused on unstructured problem-solving, something not well handled by structured engineering and scientific design learning and competition. A common example is robotics programs, which provide structured playing fields, robotic parts, and competition goals, to teach kids creative problem solving and engineering skills. These are great programs, but do not teach skills like problem search, problem identification, problem decision design, and so on. Invention education complements Engineering Design and Scientific Method learning.
The STEMIE Coalition will provide a national voice for these 600 invention education programs, and help drive best practices, open source invention education curricula, and collaboration. Where such programs do not exist, the STEMIE Coalition is helping launch new entities to drive invention education into school systems.
Did you know: The STEMIE Coalition supports the definition of “Invention” by the US Patent and Trademark Office: “Invention: Any art or process (way of doing or making things), machine, manufacture, design, or composition of matter, or any new and useful improvement thereof, or any variety of plant, which is or may be patentable under the patent laws of the United States.” Our invention education teaches students how to patent their work.
For more information on STEMIE and how it impacts your learning environment, click on the following links: