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Mighty Midget - Stories of Famous Inventors
How Did They Think of That? - For Midget Age Group
Midget Stories - Fountain pens
Fountain pens invented by Waterman
Stories For Midgets
Midget Inventors - How Did They Think Up That?
More Mighty Midget Stories
Midget Resources
Back to Midgets
Understanding Inventing - Common Questions about Patents, Trademarks, and Copyrights
Inventing 101 for Students
Would you like to be an inventor? Many inventors find things that happen in their daily life that cause them to think of some problem in a new way. The inventor of VELCRO ® thought of his invention while removing burrs from his pet's fur after walking in the woods. Eli Whitney watched a cat pull feathers through a cage -- it was how he thought of the invention now  known as the cotton gin. Watch your pet play with a toy. How does your  pet move the toy? What happens to the toy? Would the toy be better if it was softer? harder? stretchier? What else could you do with the toy? 

Other inventions come about when their inventors try to think of uses for things - vulcanized (heated) rubber for tires came about that way. Have you heard of "yellow stickies" (PostIt ® )? They were the result of a "failed" adhesive experiment which was too weak to market, until the chemist figured out that a weak adhesive had good uses too. Try recycling something. "Invent" another use for a plastic bottle, bottle caps, and rubber bands - can you make a musical instrument?

Many times you can come up with a solution for a problem (or find a problem that fits your solution!) by either "turning a problem around" or selecting two or more things at random and using them to "seed" new ideas. What does "turning a problem around" mean? It means looking at it from a different angle or thinking about it in a new way. Here are two examples of this:

Example 1 - instead of thinking of shoes as protecting your feet from the ground, think of using something to protect the ground from your feet. 

Example 2 - instead of thinking about how you can carry kumquats home from a store, think of how they can come to you - by delivery or growing your own - or do you need kumquats at all?

The burr that helped velcro become an invention - mighty midget inventorsA burr inspired VELCRO

Carefully define a problem. Focus on what you are trying to do in the first place - instead of simply how to do things. If you focus on methods, "i.e. "I need a way to use a computer to count apples", you may not identify a more basic problem - "I need to have about 1000 apples to sell every week" and miss a better solution. Of course many patents issue on novel uses of things so don't just throw away an idea because it doesn't fit the rules - just how could you use a computer to count apples?

Try changing the question - start it with a different word - who, what, where, when, why, how, etc. Change your perspective on a problem - looking for something is not at all the same as finding it, and putting something away is very different from getting rid of it. How can you keep your socks from getting lost in the wash? What happens to socks when you wash them? Where do socks get lost? When do socks stay together?

Think about something in an unexpected way. Describe doing something in words for something entirely different - search and rescue your toys; turn your closet into a menu of clothes; or feed a thought.

"Lesson Plans - Innovative Thinking" has more ideas on inventive thinking. 

Next page > More Inventing Stories for Midgets

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