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Diversity in STEM

Supporting Creativity and Exploration Through Invention Education

At the National Inventors Hall of Fame® (NIHF), we believe that all children have the ability to innovate. It’s for this reason that our education team develops hands-on STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) curricula designed to help educators create environments where students can create and explore.

For younger students, who have been shown to thrive when given the opportunity to engage in guided play, invention education pedagogy represents an effective way to unlock their inventive potential. Read below for a few reasons why this style of learning is so effective in helping K-6 students develop a passion for flexing their creative problem-solving muscles.


Developing a Creative Identity

Often, before children take the first step in their lifelong journey as innovators, they must first begin developing a creative identity. In other words, before students start creating, it helps for them to see themselves as creative.

Recently, a study published in the Journal of STEM Outreach found that the right type of invention education can lead to increased levels of student empowerment, helping them identify as people who can innovate to overcome problems or difficulties. The researchers explain that this type of learning allows children to apply skills including persistence, ideation and creativity. Once students start to develop a creative identity, they can begin realizing that their ideas have value, and they can use their ideas to solve problems and invent unique solutions.


Promoting Innovative Role Models

In order to improve the diversity of our nation’s STEM workforce, it’s crucial that children of all genders, races, abilities and backgrounds can see themselves represented in these types of positions. Research published by Opportunity Insights supports this, finding that when children are introduced to innovators at an early age, they are more likely to innovate as they grow up. It’s for this reason that all of our education programs are developed using the lessons and stories of our diverse NIHF Inductees. As a result, participants are introduced to innovative role models who help them realize what they too can achieve.


Prioritizing Open-Ended Learning

Unlike traditional forms of learning, invention education does not guide students toward uncovering one correct answer. Instead, this pedagogy challenges children to create their own unique solutions to real-world problems through the act of invention prototyping. Because students have the agency and freedom to create and problem solve in ways that are naturally interesting to them, often they are more engaged and passionate about what they are learning. By removing the need for students to travel down a predetermined learning path, the only limits to what they think of and create are the ones they place on themselves.


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For more ideas and support in encouraging healthy perspectives, promoting greater inclusivity in learning environments, and guiding our next generation of creators, innovators and leaders, we invite you to visit our blog.

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