Back to Blog
Trends in STEM

How Invention Education Helps Children Explore Their Creative identities

At the National Inventors Hall of Fame®, in addition to helping spread the spirit of innovation across the country, an important part of our mission is to advance invention education – the pedagogy at the core of all our education programs.

Thanks to the generous support of Burton D. Morgan Foundation, The Lemelson Foundation and Overdeck Family Foundation, the National Inventors Hall of Fame worked with the Center for Educational Partnerships at Old Dominion University to conduct novel research exploring inventive mindset development.

This important work culminated in an August 2021 article published in the Journal of STEM Outreach titled “Invention Education as a Context for Children’s Identity Exploration” — an important contribution to the emerging field of invention education.

In a recently published white paper, “Invention Education as a Context for Children’s Identity Exploration: A Research Summary,” we highlight some of the key findings from this research and explain how it helps move the study of invention education forward.

We invite you to read an excerpt of the white paper below:


The Frontier of Invention Education Scholarship

At the heart of all scholarship exists a body of peer-reviewed research that acts as the foundation from which the field in question can grow and evolve. However, because the study of invention education is in its relative infancy, these analyses, tools and benchmarks are still being developed and tested.

The authors of “Invention Education as a Context for Children’s Identity Exploration” sought to address this challenge directly by examining how children perceive particular aspects of invention education pedagogy and developing “a high-quality tool for measuring students’ perceptions of their own proclivities towards invention” that could both guide the development of future invention education programs and evaluate their impact.

To do this, the researchers examined Camp Invention Connect®, a K-6 STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) summer education program developed by the National Inventors Hall of Fame, for its potential and “context for inventive mindset development,” meaning that it can support children’s long-lasting learning about their own inventive capacities as well as new skills.

In the process, they also developed and validated an “inventive mindset scale” including nine assessment items related to creativity and inventiveness, and using a four-point, Likert-type scale with “strongly disagree,” “disagree,” “agree” and “strongly agree” response options.

Using this inventive mindset scale and a set of additional questions “designed to reveal children’s identification with particular STEM subjects,” the team analyzed the pre- and post-camp survey responses from 108 upper elementary and middle school-aged children and sought to answer three primary research questions:

Research Question 1:
What are the invention-related self-perceptions of upper elementary and middle school-aged children participating in an out-of-school time (OST) invention education program and to what degree do these overlap with their identification with STEM subjects?

Research Question 2:
What features of an invention camp experience contribute to a context that is conducive for inventive identity exploration?

Research Question 3:
To what extent is gender associated with children’s responses to an invention mindset questionnaire, their identification with STEM subjects and their perceptions of the invention camp experience?


Read the Full White Paper Today

To read the white paper in its entirety and learn the answers to the above research questions, visit our website!

Related Articles