The I Can Invent Mindset: Our Approach to Invention Education

Helping Students Develop Key 21st-Century Skills Through STEM Education Programs

When we think back to our most memorable educational moments, chances are they do not involve standardized tests or surprise quizzes. Instead, what you are more likely to fondly remember are the science fair projects you worked on or a field trip to a museum where you were able to observe what you were learning firsthand.

It’s unsurprising that the moments in our education we remember most fondly are ones that involve in-person or hands-on experiences. This is known as experiential learning and is defined as the creation of knowledge through the transformation of experience.

With our world becoming ever more complex, students will be increasingly confronted with challenges that rarely have simple solutions. Over the past decade, educators nationwide have promoted the importance of helping students develop 21st-century skills in the classroom to equip them with key abilities like critical thinking and problem solving. While there exists near universal agreement on the importance of skills like these, there exist many different opinions on which skills are most essential.

This paper introduces the National Inventors Hall of Fame’s (NIHF) solution to the guesswork that comes from deciding which 21st-century skills to promote over others. We call it the I Can Invent® Mindset.

In this paper, you will learn:

  • The nine skills and attributes that unlock a child’s creative potential when they attend NIHF STEM education programs.
  • An explanation of the pedagogy and theory behind the I Can Invent Mindset from Alaina Rutledge, vice president of education research and development at NIHF.
  • The proven research behind invention education and why its strategies are so effective at helping children develop 21st-century skills.

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