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50 Years of Innovation: Supporting Problem Solving

“I think there’s a huge satisfaction to coming up with solutions to problems, and especially to problems that really make a difference in people’s lives. I can’t imagine a more satisfying career than being able to do that.”
— National Inventors Hall of Fame® Inductee Frances Arnold, inventor of directed evolution of enzymes


National Inventors Hall of Fame Inductees are the world’s greatest problem solvers. From taking on complex challenges that shape industries to developing ideas that make our everyday lives easier, visionary inventors make the world a better place.

For 50 years, the National Inventors Hall of Fame has honored the most influential U.S. patent holders. As we look ahead to the next 50 years, we remain committed to not only telling our Inductees’ stories but also supporting the next generation of great problem solvers.

Learning From Solution Seekers

Every invention begins with a challenge to be overcome. From making everyday tasks easier to creating lifesaving devices, inventors create solutions by applying the right mindset. At the National Inventors Hall of Fame, we call this the I Can Invent® Mindset. It’s a way of looking at the world with curiosity, ingenuity and a passion for finding ways to make the world a better place.

The I Can Invent Mindset combines creative problem solving, confidence, persistence, collaboration and design thinking with STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) skills, intellectual property knowledge, entrepreneurship and innovation. Over the last 50 years, the National Inventors Hall of Fame team has learned that while our Inductees represent diverse fields, backgrounds, perspectives and experiences, this mindset is one thing they all have in common.

Inductee Marion Donovan took on the daily challenges of changing her daughter's cloth diapers, clothing and bed sheets by creating, patenting and marketing a waterproof diaper cover. Inductees Stewart Adams and John Nicholson were tasked with finding new treatments for rheumatoid arthritis, so they collaborated for a decade to develop ibuprofen – one of the world’s safest, most effective and most widely used pain relievers. When Inductee Patricia Bath, an ophthalmologist, found that Black patients were far more likely to have glaucoma and experience a higher degree of vision loss, she revolutionized care by developing the discipline of Community Ophthalmology and inventing laserphaco cataract surgery.

These are just a few of the more than 600 problem-solving stories you’ll find when you read more about our National Inventors Hall of Fame Inductees.


Solving for the Future

To carry the problem-solving legacy of the world’s greatest innovators into the future, the National Inventors Hall of Fame collaborates with our Inductees to create one-of-a-kind education programs for children across the country. Programs like Camp Invention® and Invention Project® guide children to build the I Can Invent Mindset by developing their own solutions to real-world problems through creative, hands-on, fun.

“Why is problem solving so fun and interesting?” asks Inductee R. Rox Anderson, inventor of laser dermatology. “Well, it has that pleasure associated with actually changing the world.”

Each of our education programs is designed to help children discover the joy Anderson describes. While building the problem-solving skills that will help them navigate their lives, children learn that just like our Inductees, they have the potential to change lives and shape the world around them.

“My child felt included and considered during problem-solving situations, which made him feel more confident. He also feels more confident with knowing how to start creating his own inventions.”
— Sarah S., Camp Invention parent, King George, VA


“My children were able to use their minds creatively and build upon their problem-solving skills. They worked together with friends they knew and with new friends they met. Camp Invention helped my kids become more independent and boosted their self-confidence. They loved it!”
— Rebecca W., Camp Invention parent, Westport, CT


“The most meaningful parts [of National Inventors Hall of Fame education programs] were the problem solving for the students. They were in a safe place to try new ideas and see how their thoughts worked out.”
— Kim E., Educator, Burleson, TX


“The opportunity for kids to make mistakes while developing their ideas is always my favorite part. This is a hard concept for kids these days, and Camp Invention makes it fun to fail in order to succeed.”
—Stefan T., Educator, South Lyon, MI


Share Your Story

Do you have a story about how you or your child has solved a problem, or how your life has been improved by a great problem solver? Visit our website to share your story and learn how you could win a trip to Washington, D.C., to help us celebrate our 50th anniversary at our 2023 Induction Ceremony!

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