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Supporting Social-Emotional Learning Through Invention Education

Defined by the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL) as the process through which children learn how to set positive goals, understand and manage their emotions, show empathy for others and make responsible decisions, social-emotional learning (SEL) builds essential characteristics children need to thrive both now and into the future.

At the National Inventors Hall of Fame® (NIHF), we believe that invention education, learning through the act of hands-on innovation, is the perfect way to learn and apply SEL skills. In our white paper, “Using Invention Education to Support Social-Emotional Learning,” we explain this belief and discuss how educators can implement these insights in their classrooms.

We invite you to read an excerpt of this paper below:


Innovation Begins with Empathy

At the National Inventors Hall of Fame, we are privileged to honor and learn from some of our nation’s most influential innovators. From 2004 Inductees Frederick Banting, Charles Best and James Collip, whose discovery of isolated, purified insulin continues to improve the lives of millions diagnosed with diabetes, to 2022 Inductees Lisa Lindahl, Hinda Miller and Polly Smith, who invented the sports bra so women could comfortably participate in athletic activities, inventors continue to demonstrate that the crucial first step in creating something impactful is often to think about how your invention can help another person.

The utility of empathy extends far beyond the scope of inventing. IDEO, one of the world’s leading design companies, lists empathy as a crucial component of its “human-centered design practice.” By consistently focusing on the people who will be impacted by one of its design strategies, the company is able to scale its services, from product design to organizational strategy to global business challenges. “We’ve learned that tackling these issues as if they were design problems, even though they are outside the realm of design, leads to outcomes that are functional and emotionally meaningful for the people affected,” IDEO said in a white paper. “Empathetic design has proven useful in addressing increasingly large systemic challenges such as education, healthcare, and organizational efficiency. This has inspired us to find ways to apply empathy in new contexts.”

In an academic setting, using empathy as a guiding principle to implement invention education is important not only because it will help students come up with more useful ideas, but also because, as research has shown, when we place ourselves in someone else’s shoes, it strengthens our ability to contextualize information. Research published by MIT Press also shows how an empathetic mindset can increase our desire to help others, making it clear that empathy can act as a motivating force. In the context of a project-based learning technique like those used in invention education, teachers can encourage this mindset by introducing brainstorming activities that ask students to identify common problems that other people have, or improvements to things that already exist in the world.


Download Our Free White Paper Today

At that National Inventor's Hall of Fame, part of our mission is to honor the world’s greatest innovators whose work continues to improve the world around us. We encourage you to learn more about how creative education that prioritizes hands-on innovation can help transform students into creators.

To read our white paper, “Using Invention Education to Support Social-Emotional Learning,” in its entirety, we invite you to visit our website.

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