Inventions and Inventors for Kids

The basics of how inventions are made and what an inventor does

Throughout history, inventions have helped people discover new worlds, build communities, develop resources, increase productivity, cure diseases, ease burdens, and enjoy life to the fullest. This primer is geared towards the understanding of inventing and inventions, and will also help you learn about the patent system and understand what a patent search is. 

How Did They Come Up With THAT?

Chester Greenwood - Earmuffs
Chester Greenwood - Earmuffs. USPTO

Geared to the needs of Kindergarten to 6th Grade. Read about how the inventors of Silly Putty, Mr. Potato Head, Raggedy Ann, Mickey Mouse, earmuffs, blue jeans and Coca-Cola came up with their ideas.

What is a Patent Search?

What is a Patent Search?
What is a Patent Search?. Mary Bellis

Geared to the needs of 6th to 12th Grade. Learn how to search for a patent like a pro. You can look up information on everything ever invented.

Understanding Trademarks

United States Patent and Trademark Office
United States Patent and Trademark Office. Mary Bellis

Every day, each of us encounters at least 1,500 trademarks and up to 30,000 if we visit a supermarket. They help us know the source of a product or service and give us valuable information about quality and consistency.

Patent for a President

Abraham Lincoln portrayed on the penny
Abraham Lincoln portrayed on the penny. Mary bellis

For All Levels - Abraham Lincoln had a strong interest in new technology and was the only United States President to hold a patent.

The History of Toy Inventions

The Art of Toys
The Art of Toys. Mary Bellis

Toy manufacturers and toy inventors use both utility and design patents, along with trademarks and copyrights. In fact, many toys especially video games take advantage of all three types of intellectual property protection.

Music Copyright

Three Part Harmony - Music Copyright
Three Part Harmony - Music Copyright. Mary Bellis

Mary had a little lamb." With these words, Thomas Edison started a technological revolution that continues today. The phonograph marked the beginning of the recording industry. He discovered it while doing research on sound waves for several other inventions, built a prototype, and was granted a patent in 1877.

Early History of African American Inventors

George Washington Carver
George Washington Carver. Mary Bellis

What we know about early African American innovators comes mostly from the work of Henry Baker. He was an assistant patent examiner at the U.S. Patent Office who was dedicated to uncovering and publicizing the contributions of Black inventors.

Mothers of Invention

Grace Murray Hopper
Grace Murray Hopper. Courtesy Norfolk Naval Center

Until about 1840, only 20 patents were issued to women. The inventions related to apparel, tools, cook stoves, and fire places.

Stories about Great Thinkers and Famous Inventors

Stories about Great Thinkers and Famous Inventors
Stories about Great Thinkers and Famous Inventors. Courtesy of Laurel Middle School

Stories about great thinkers and inventors will help to motivate your students and enhance their appreciation of the contributions of inventors. As students read these stories, they will also realize the "inventors" are male, female, old, young, minority, and majority. They are ordinary people who follow through with their creative ideas to make their dreams a reality.