When inspiration and creativity combine, sometimes dreams can become reality.
Such was the case when Jill White and her daughters Audrey (age 7) and Mia (age 5) grabbed a Frito-Lay variety bag and learned about the 2019 “Dreamvention” contest – a competition where families work together to create a solution to an everyday problem.
“Joe [Jill’s husband] and I had been having discussions about the importance of children, especially girls, being confident in creative thinking, innovation, and in the math and sciences,” White said. “We had just signed the kids up for the Camp Invention® program, and the contest fit into our theme.”
When the family returned home, Audrey and Mia were immediately excited about inventing. Using crafting supplies, the two girls got to work sketching out ideas and letting their imaginations run wild.
The family began brainstorming different everyday problems and thought about their favorite meal of the day: breakfast. While Jill enjoys cooking for her family, having two young girls too close to the stove made her nervous. Together, they came up with the idea for “Kid Safe Switch,” a sensor that attaches to an oven and detects when someone below a certain height gets too close.
From a pool of five finalists, the “Kid Safe Switch” received the highest number of votes, and the family was awarded a first-place prize of $250,000. Currently, the family is in the early process of speaking with an engineer and lawyer about appropriate next steps and exciting plans for the future.
The Power of Encouraging Creativity in Children
The White family’s success did not happen by accident. Long before submitting their invention idea to the Dreamvention contest, both Jill and Joe had always encouraged their daughters’ natural creativity and provided them with the tools and confidence to try new things.
In addition, both parents made it a priority to highlight the accomplishments of other innovators to show their girls what they too could achieve. The effectiveness of this technique is supported by research from Opportunity Insights which found that exposure to innovation substantially increases the likelihood children will become innovators.
Last year at Camp Invention, both girls enjoyed the program’s interactive challenges. Mia’s favorite activity was Mod My Mini Mansion™, where she had fun both decorating and figuring out how to create smart products for her house. Audrey most enjoyed designing her Optibot™ and taking apart a robotic dog. Their parents have already enrolled them in the new, 2019 Camp Invention program, and both are excited to create, explore new ideas and innovate.
For parents interested in creating with their kids, Jill and Joe recommend having fun. “It’s important to create an atmosphere where everyone feels safe to share ideas, imaginings and thoughts,” Jill said. “Sometimes the silliest brainstorming can lead to the most innovative ideas.” Joe also stresses the importance of positivity, explaining that both encouragement and patience are key to bringing out creativity in children.
Both Mia and Audrey believe that you can never be too young to invent. For kids their age interested in inventing, Mia’s piece of advice is that “you have to work very hard.” Audrey agrees and believes in staying engaged. “You have to pay attention and ask questions when you don’t understand something,” she said. “You should also have lots of fun and use your imagination.”
Camp Invention Inspires the Next Generation of Innovators
The National Inventors Hall Fame® is committed to honoring the world’s greatest inventors, and inspiring the students of today through our flagship summer program Camp Invention. To learn more about our other education programs, we invite you to visit our website.