Smithsonian and Cricket Media Launch the 7th Annual Spark!Lab Dr. InBae Yoon Invent It Challenge for Kids Worldwide

This year’s focus is on designing new and innovative ways to provide natural disaster preparation and relief

WASHINGTON, DC—February 1,2018  This January marked the launch of the 7th annual Global Spark!Lab Dr. InBae Yoon Invent It Challenge – coinciding with the month’s Kid Inventors’ Day, which celebrates the important role children play in sparking innovation worldwide.

Cricket Media, in partnership with the Smithsonian’s Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation, today opens the call for entries to the Spark!Lab Invent It Challenge. The Challenge offers eligible children from around the world the opportunity to showcase their creative thinking on a global stage and, thanks to the generosity of the Yoon family, winners of  the annual Challenge in each category will participate in a multi-day visit to the National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C. (USA), during which they will undertake invention collaborations and get special tours of the Museum’s invention collections. Individual students, entire classrooms, schools and other organizations serving children between the ages of 5-21 are encouraged to participate.

Selected winners will also receive a consultation for an official patent filing with the law firm Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough, LLP.  “Nelson Mullins has participated in this program on a pro bono basis for a number of years and look forward to, once again, helping to encourage young inventors and entrepreneurs,” says Neil Jones, a lead partner in the firm’s patent group.  Mr. Jones adds, “I, personally, look forward to working with the eligible winners.”

This year’s Challenge invites kids to think about the impacts that natural disasters have on communities around the world and then design real-world solutions that can help prepare for and recover from these events. Young inventors are guided to create solutions by thinking critically about preparedness, response and rescue, immediate relief, and recovery.

“Educating and inspiring the next generation of scientists, engineers, and technologists requires access to role models and learning resources that share how real-life problems are tackled and solved,” said Nina Zolt, co-founder of Cricket Media. “So, we are honored to once again join with the Smithsonian’s Lemelson Center and Spark!Lab to empower students across the globe to make a real difference in the world.”

The theme for 2017 was “inventing green,” and kids were challenged to create an invention that addressed a real-world environmental issue. More than 500 children ages 5-18 from around the world participated in the Challenge, and winning inventions included blinds with solar panels on them to generate electricity for homes, a personal environmental quality monitor, an app to teach animal conservation, and a device that drains water from roofs and gutters into a tank so that it can be collected and used for other purposes.

“The Smithsonian’s Lemelson Center believes that everyone is inventive—especially kids,” said Tricia Edwards, Head of Education at the Lemelson Center. “The Invent It Challenge is a great opportunity for students to develop their original ideas and be recognized for their creative and problem-solving abilities.”

The Spark!Lab Invent It Challenge requires students to follow seven key steps in the invention process, including: Identifying the problem, conducting research, sketching their ideas, building a prototype, testing the product, refining it, and marketing it to potential users. The process helps to cultivate and reinforce modern skills such as the use of digital technologies, and also meets several learning standards. A panel composed of Smithsonian and Cricket Media judges will select winners. The deadline for submitting inventions to the Spark!Lab Invent It Challenge is March 19, 2018. For complete entry guidelines and Official Rules, visit:


Cricket Media, Inc. is a global education company providing award-winning content and safe and secure collaborative learning networks. Cricket Media serves millions of teachers, students and parents in over 200 countries and territories to fulfill its mission to engage, enlighten and educate children everywhere. Learn more at

Spark!Lab is a hands-on invention activity space operated by the Jerome and Dorothy Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History. The Lemelson Center engages, educates, and empowers the public to participate in technological, economic, and social change. Through historical research, educational initiatives, exhibitions, and public programming the Centers advances new perspectives on invention and innovation and fosters interactions between the public and inventors. For more information, please visit