Invent It Challenge: Take a Page From Fellow Young Inventors

The 2017 Invent It Challenge launched 10 days ago and we hope your child is among those thinking about projects to enter. This year’s challenge invites kids ages 5 to 21 to think about a real-world environmental challenge and come up with a planet friendly solution. Often we hear from kids that the most difficult part is coming up with an idea that they can really sink their teeth into; an idea that inspires them and makes them excited about discovering a solution. While we can’t help as much as we’d like with that part, we can provide a bit of inspiration for our young inventors by profiling a few kid inventors who developed products that have the potential to make a huge impact in the health of the environment.


The Invent It Challenge: Take a Page from Paige and Daniel and Max and ElizabethWater Quality Improvement by Paige

Seventeen-year-old Paige Brown studied the water quality of seven local streams, six of which had been declared environmentally impaired by Maine’s Department of Environmental Protection. Paige is now developing a cost effective device that uses a common algae-derived gelling agent and other compounds to remove the phosphorous from water within storm water systems in her city and beyond.


The Invent It Challenge: Take a Page from Paige and Daniel and Max and ElizabethDisposing of Plastic Bags by Daniel

Daniel Burd found a way to use microbes to degrade plastic bags in as little as three months. According to the 16-year-old, “almost every week I have to do chores and when I open the closet door, I have this avalanche of plastic bags falling on top of me. One day, I got tired of it and I wanted to know what other people are doing with these plastic bags.”


The Invent It Challenge: Take a Page from Paige and Daniel and Max and ElizabethMeasuring Water Usage by Elizabeth

When Elizabeth Rintels was 12 she created a smart device that measures and monitors water use in the shower. Elizabeth’s gadget, which can be attached to any faucet, lights up and beeps with every half-gallon of water that gushes forth helping people keep track of their water usage.


The Invent It Challenge: Take a Page from Paige and Daniel and Max and ElizabethNew Homes by Max

Max Wallack was also 12 when he invented the “Home Dome”. Composed of plastic bags filled with Styrofoam packing peanuts, the yurt-shaped structure was designed to offer temporary shelter for homeless people and disaster victims, while relieving landfills of non-biodegradable waste.


Does your child have an idea of a project for the 6th Annual Invent It Challenge?

Check out our Invent It Challenge webpage for a wealth of information that will help your child complete and submit their project. And check back here for additional blogs with inspiration and advice designed to help make inventing it as fun and easy as possible.

Invent It Challenge: Mission Accomplished!

Today marks the final day young inventors can submit their inventions to the 2016 Invent It Challenge. We are excited to see all the innovative ideas and concepts rolling in and the judges are ready to start evaluating each project’s merits based on how well the inventor followed the 7-step invention process outlined by Spark Labs.


Many times after a person hands in a project they have worked so hard on, they experience a myriad of emotions that range from happiness that they completed the project to utter sadness that it is over. This is normal. You might also find that your inventor starts to second-guess their work. They may regret adding or deleting something. They may feel like they didn’t show enough of their work. Again, this is normal. Instead of dwelling on these feelings, why not encourage them to make something new. All around them are problems of all sizes waiting to be solved and new products waiting to be created. And no matter what they make, the 7-step invention process is a perfect template to help them clearly think the project through and achieve optimal results.


Good luck to everyone who entered the Invent Challenge this year. Our judges will announce the winners on April 15th. If your child decided to sit this one out, we hope they will join us next year. In the meantime, remind them to keep their thinking caps on. You never know where or when a good idea will come looking for you.

When Einstein Developed His Theory of Space, It Was About Time

Happy birthday Albert Einstein. And also…Happy Pi Day! By some crazy, random happenstance, Einstein’s birthday is March 14, also known as Pi Day (get it? 3.14?)


We celebrate Pi Day at my office with a plethora of pies and bad math puns. But I hadn’t realized until this year that it was also the birthdate of one of our more relatively famous mathematicians. What are the odds that Albert Einstein would be born on Pi Day? Well… I guess Albert Einstein probably would have been able to tell you that. However, to me, it’s seemingly impossible so I feel like we should take this crazy, random happenstance a step further and name it National Math Day. Think about it. We recognize Literacy Days, Science Weeks, History Months; heck, we even have National Watermelon Day (Aug 3, in case you were wondering) … Poor math gets left behind.


(Does quick internet search to ensure is not sticking foot in mouth due to ignorance. Shew! No National Math Day already exist in the annuals of the interwebs)


It appears India had decreed Dec 22 to be National Mathematics Day, but I didn’t find any official American holiday for Math, so by the powers vested in me as a mom, a math aficionado (‘ish… well, a math encouragist), and as a proponent for fun, new ways to learn and become invested in every facet of education, I hereby declare that March 14 henceforth be known as Math Day!


What are the odds that Albert Einstein would be born on Pi Day? Well… I guess Albert Einstein probably would have been able to tell you that.

National-Pi-DayHow do we celebrate this newly inaugurated day of mathematical love? This joint recognition of both a Nobel-prize winner and a quirky never-ending number. You know me… I’m always a lover of fun facts, and what better way to celebrate than to share some.


  • Einstein was a late talker, leading his parents to have concerns about his developmental abilities. He also disliked school but loved the study of music.
  • In a Star Trek episode from 1967 Spock foils the evil computer by commanding it to “compute to last digit the value of pi.”
  • Einstein supported the Civil Rights movement in America. He was a member of the NAACP and considered racism to be the “worst disease” in the country.
  • In 1995, Hiroyoki Gotu memorized 42,195 places of pi and is considered the current pi champion.
  • Einstein was offered the position of President of Israel but declined.
  • Pi has been studied by the human race for almost 4,000 years. By 2000 B.C., Babylonians established the constant circle ratio as 3-1/8 or 3.125. The ancient Egyptians arrived at a slightly different value of 3-1/7 or 3.143.
  • Einstein didn’t wear socks and owned the same two suits in different colors to reduce the number of decisions he had to make each day.
  • Since there are 360 degrees in a circle and pi is intimately connected with the circle, some mathematicians were delighted to discover that the number 360 is at the 359th digit position of pi.
  • Someone once stole Einstein’s brain. At his autopsy, the pathologist took his brain without permission, keeping it for more than 40 years. He eventually obtained permission from Einstein’s son, but he was fired regardless.
  • If you consider sweet and savory varieties, there are at least a million varieties of pies in the world.

If nothing else, celebrate today with pies and bad math puns. And read a story about Einstein from Cricket Media such as “Einstein’s Final Project”, which you will find below.


Einsteins Final Project - Cricket Media

Cricket Media Mama would like to submit the following for your consideration:


I was kicked out of math class for one too many infractions.
I didn’t understand the math, so the teacher summed it up for me.
I used to hate math but then I realized decimals have a point
I’m bad at math, so the equation 2n+2n is 4n to me
We’ll never run out of math teachers because they always multiply.
Math teachers have lots of problems, but watching their figures isn’t one of them.