Since 2011, in partnership with Cricket Media, we have invited young inventors (5 to 18 years old) to take on a real-world problem, come up with creative solutions, build, test, and tweak prototypes—and document the entire process for competitive judging.
An Inventive Life
Named in honor of Dr. InBae Yoon (1936-2014), a Korean American physician and prolific inventor with more than 200 patents, and also acknowledging his wife Kyung Joo Yoon’s lifelong creative partnership, the Invent It Challenge celebrates Dr. Yoon’s endlessly inventive spirit. After graduating from medical school in the early 1960s in Korea, Dr. Yoon immigrated to Baltimore, where he completed his residency in general surgery and then focused on Obstetrics and Gynecology, becoming passionate about laparoscopy, a then-emerging surgical technique that uses small incisions as insertion points for scopes. Often ahead of the trends of his day, Dr. Yoon advocated for laparoscopic and endoscopic techniques, which he thought were safer than traditional techniques and allowed patients to heal more quickly. Over time, the medical field embraced Dr. Yoon’s approaches and, today, so-called “minimally invasive” surgery is widespread and common. (Read more about Dr. Yoon and learn about his first patent.)
Everyone Is Inventive
Dr. Yoon’s curiosity and creativity never turned off. Always problem-solving, exploring, sketching, building prototypes, testing, and tweaking, Dr. Yoon saw challenges as opportunities and failures as feedback. For him, being inventive was simply part of who he was, and he believed EVERYONE is inventive. We celebrate this idea every day in Draper Spark!Lab at the National Museum of American History, in Spark!Lab Network sites, and through the Invent It Challenge, where we invite visitors to practice the invention process:
- Identify a problem or need (Think It)
- Conduct research (Explore It)
- Make sketches (Sketch It)
- Build prototypes (Create It)
- Test the invention (Try It)
- Refine the invention (Tweak It)
- Market the invention (Sell It)
2020 Dr. InBae and Mrs. Kyung Joo Yoon Invent It Challenge
This year’s Invent It challenge:
Create a new invention that helps provide access to healthy food for everyone, everywhere, every day.
When we launched the 2020 challenge earlier this year, everyday life had not yet been disrupted by COVID-19. Now, though, amidst the current global crisis, solving challenges related to producing, transporting, preserving, and distributing food is even more timely and relevant. What will you invent to help make sure everyone has access to healthy food?
Get detailed information about the 2020 Invent It Challenge and get started with a "yes, you are an inventor" pep talk.
For a related activity to spark your creativity, try reinventing the shopping cart!