The 2016 Spark!Lab Invent It Challenge is off and running. This year, kids ages 5 to 21 need to identify a real-world health problem and come up with a solution to the problem. Each entry must follow the seven step invention process spelled out by our partner, the Smithsonian’s Spark!Lab. This week we will focus on Step 6: Tweak It!
This week we will give you some tips to help your child through the tweaking stage, where the inventor will attempt to iron out any bugs and really get their new product to the stage where it functions as he or she originally envisioned it.
Tweaking Previous Inventions
Improving on, or tweaking, previous inventions has paved the way for the development of virtually every technology used by people today. If your child was disappointed with the results of their testing, remind them that it is usually not enough to just come up with an original idea. Even the best ideas need to be honed and refined in order to reach their full potential. For example, the carburetor, an essential component of the automobile, went through many different versions before it was ready to run the engines of cars similar to the ones we use today. Even now, changes and improvements are being made to make cars run longer, faster, cleaner, and better. With each tweak, the car evolves into something better and is able to meet the needs of more people.
This bring us to the tweaks your child’s project might need. First analyze the testing. Did everything work out as planned or were there a few surprises or set-backs? Be sure to have your inventor document the major changes the project needs and show the different tweaks he/she is making to ensure the project works to the best of its ability. Does the inventor need to modify the design or change the materials it’s made from? Should he or she add a new part to your invention, or take something away to make it simpler?
Keep in mind that this testing/tweaking stage does not have to be a one-time event. Have the inventor try the invention again after their first tweak and see what happens. Many inventors try and tweak and then try again to keep improving their idea until they get it just the way the want it! One of our winners from last year shared with us that she needed to build 4 different prototypes before she got her invention to the point where it was able to work properly.
With just 3 weeks until the submission deadline, this is also the time to get all the inventor’s information assembled so he or she is ready to create the presentation that will position them as a strong contender in the 5th Annual Global Invent It Challenge.
Missed learning about the previous Invent It! 2016 steps?