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STEM Activities

STEM Activity: How to Brainstorm Ideas

Great ideas can come from anywhere! In celebration of World IP (intellectual property) Day, we invite you to try this STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) activity that first leads children to tap into the power of brainstorming to create an invention that helps others and then encourages them to explore how IP can protect what they create.


Materials Needed

  • Adhesive notes
  • Chart or poster paper
  • Markers


Step-by-Step Instructions

  1. Ask your child how they feel when they think up new ideas. Remember that generating ideas is fun and easy for some, while for others it is challenging.
  2. Ask your child if they have ever heard of brainstorming. Explain that brainstorming is coming up with ideas for a challenge or opportunity.
  3. Share that a great way to practice brainstorming is by selecting an everyday object (such as a cup, pencil or paper clip) and then thinking up new uses for it.
  4. Explain that it can be very helpful to follow a few rules when brainstorming. Review them here:
  1. Ask your child to pick an object they want to use to practice brainstorming new ideas.
  2. Once the object is selected, ask your child “How else might you use this object?”
  3. Using adhesive notes and markers, jot down one idea on each note and post them on a piece of chart paper (or other surface).
  4. As the ideas slow down, ask a few prompting questions, such as:
    • What else?
    • What can be added to it or changed about it?
    • What else might it be combined with?
    • How else might you use it?
  5. Once you have some practice brainstorming, you can move on to generating ideas for bigger challenges and opportunities.
  6. Share how IP can help inventors to protect their ideas and market them to people who could benefit from them. a. Visit our website to help your child learn more about their rights as a creator.
  7. Ask your child how they would want to help the world through their ideas and inventions!


What Are We Discovering?

National Inventors Hall of Fame® (NIHF) Inductee Kristina Johnson, co-inventor of polarization-control technology, shares, “My inventing style is to first learn everything I can about the problem, work to understand it, and then think deeply about how I can connect what I know to solving what I don’t know.” An important part of creative thinking is keeping open to new ideas, solutions and suggestions. Inspiration can come from anywhere. When you are inventing and designing, new ideas could be sparked by having a conversation with a friend, observing the way a bird lands on a branch, or even hearing a family member’s complaint about an existing product.


Looking for Even More STEM Fun? Check Out Camp Invention!

If your child enjoys STEM activities, they will love Camp Invention®, NIHF’s nationwide K-6 STEM summer camp. To learn more about this year’s brand-new program and to reserve your spot today, we invite you to visit our website.

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