The Edison Young Inventor‟s Code
I recognize the „power of one‟, the unlimited potential and influence
one person can have. I pledge to myself, I will observe with interest,
question with curiosity, research meaningfully, and apply myself with
integrity at all times, with admiration for those who contributed before
me, with respect for all who share the present, and with the desire to
influence the future for the better.
c.1998 Gary H. Nelson
An official document of the Thomas Alva Edison Regional Inventors Fair
My invention Story
Successful inventors often learn the hard way about what it takes to get their
invention(s) to the marketplace. Every person who markets something eventually
learns the value of good planning . . . whether the product happens to be based
on one‟s intellectual knowledge, athletic ability, voice, or artistic skills.
An official document of the Thomas Alva Edison Regional Inventors Fair
THE FIRST STEP: RECOGNIZING PROBLEMS
If I plan to invent something worthwhile, I must first identify one or more problems
that are of concern to me. A problem may affect the young or elderly. It may be
at home, school, work, or play, within the community or on a global scale. It may
be on land, in the air or about the water. Here are three problems that catch my
attention along with the reason(s) each are important to me.
PROBLEM: WHY THIS IS IMPORTANT
I am interested in doing something about Problem # _____ .
Who or what will benefit?
Before I give up my valuable time to work on this problem, it is important to know
what solutions other people have already come up with! If I skip this part, I may
wind up inventing something that has already been invented. This would prevent
me from claiming my idea as new or novel. I would need permission from the
original inventor to use the idea or else I would be infringing (stealing the idea).
To the best of my ability, I must show that I came up with this idea first!
SEARCHING FOR CLUES
Here‟s the plan. The United States Patent Depository Library, so I am told, is
THE PLACE to perform a “patent search”. This library has recorded inventions as
far back as the late 1700‟s! It is even possible to do this search online at
http://www.uspto.gov . By clicking on PATENTS and then on PATENT SEARCH,
this will take me to a Search Box where I can use key words to describe my
invention and learn what others have already come up with. This can be tricky,
so I need to think carefully about how to describe my invention in the simplest of
terms! Here are some of the key word descriptions I have come up with:
Once I find patents with similar inventions, I can use the references in each
patent to expand my own patent search! This is a very helpful tip to remember.
Here is a list of places I checked to see if products like mine are already being
sold plus a list of people I talked to who might buy or sell this product and what I
learned. (Attach one or more additional pages if needed to explain the details.)
Having performed this research, I believe my idea to be new and original
(invention) or a unique improvement on what currently exist (innovation). I am
now ready to take the next step!
Like Thomas Edison, inventors challenge themselves! They brainstorm,
investigate and experiment to find the best solution to a problem. Here is a
summary of my trials and errors that I have made in coming up with my final
solution. All the details can be found in the RESEARCH NOTEBOOK that is an
important addition to this logbook. I provide witnessed proof of my work and the
dates I did the work! If I read special books or received help or ideas from
anyone, I recorded this information, too! I indicate everyone who assisted me
whether or not I used any of his or her suggestions to improve my invention!
1. This is what I began with: (My original concept.)
2. I learned I could do better by adjusting this or adding that. I am including what
did not work as well.
3. This is what finally worked best.
4. Key people who helped me understand and improve my project . . . and how
My new or novel idea
Anyone filing a patent must provide one or more CLAIMS explaining why his or
her idea is new, unique and better at solving a problem than anyone else has
ever come up with to this day! This is a comparison to what makes an invention different than what already exists. For example: You have improved a way to better secure a roof shingle so it can not blow off a
roof. You did not invent the shingle or the roof nail. You invented the new way to attach it to the
roof. Describe the attachment and how it functions to secure the existing shingle in one or more
ways that distinguishes it from anything previously used.
Here are special features I would like to CLAIM about my invention.
Personal safety and the safety of others
I have paid careful attention to safety rules at all times! If my invention required
using equipment or experimentation, I made sure I had adult supervision, worked
under safe conditions with access to a fire extinguisher and eye protection. Here
is a written description of what I did to maintain safety during all times.
The Other Safety Issue
I have learned inventors must think about liability, the risk of being hurt when
using a product – especially MY PRODUCT! Here is what I believe could
happen if people are not careful using my product or storing it away from children
and pets. (Include any safety improvements made to the product as well as any
cautions or safety directions that should accompany my product. Attach an extra
page if necessary.)
Patents require illustrations or drawings of what the invention looks like, including
the different parts of the invention and how each part works in relationship to the
whole invention. This is a drawing of my invention with special features labeled.
CREATING THE REAL THING
To be successful, I will need to prove to myself and others will my invention work.
I can also show it is attractive, efficient, and economically designed. A prototype
is just what I need to accomplish this.
One very important thing about my prototype is that it represents the real
invention but must be made to fit within the exhibit space provided. IT IS A
MODEL. Space is limited to three feet long by one and one half feet wide (3‟ by
1 ?‟). My invention must fit on or below the exhibit table in the limited space
provided. For safety and fairness, if my invention model is too big to fit in this
space, I will need to find another way to show it.
Example One: If my invention fits on a bicycle, I will take a photo or draw a picture of how it fits on
the bicycle. I will not bring in the bicycle itself because it is too big for the space allowed.
Example Two: The invention fits in a wall cabinet or desk. I will not bring in the cabinet or the
desk because it is TOO BIG. If I must show it in its place, I will make a smaller model of both
my invention and the cabinet or provide a photo, drawing or video.
The same thing goes for demonstrating my invention, If it is too big, noisy,
possibly messy, requires chemicals, produces a flame, or in any way could be
dangerous to demonstrate, I will take pictures or show a video of how it works.
The same goes for live animals; they may not be part of the exhibit or
demonstration! Just pictures or videos!
BUILDING MY PROTOTYPE Check one:
[ ] I did it myself
[ ] I had other people help me : (Their names and how they helped are
recorded in my Research Notebook or Logbook.)
How much my prototype cost to make: (Here is a list of materials and their cost.
If is used only part of an item, I will estimate it‟s cost.)
Total Cost: $ _____________
I am told that a three dimensional computer drawing could be made of my
invention. This information can be fed into a special „steriolithographic‟ machine that can make a very accurate, working model! It actual PRINTS the model in 3D,
having height, width, and depth! It does this by layering one cross-section on top
of another, repeating the process over and over until completed. This can cost
hundreds, if simple, to thousands, if complex, of dollars.
There is a lot to learn about manufacturing, making special production molds,
using the most economical verses the best materials for the product and deciding
on the right packaging. The retail cost of a product averages about four times
the manufacturer‟s production cost. Why is this?
I might want to LICENSE my idea to a company. The benefits of licensing are?
MAKING A PROFIT FROM MY INVENTION
I am pleased with myself knowing that I can recognize a problem and do
something about it! I have come to realize all the different subjects I am taught in
school can influence the success of my invention. This includes learning to read
and write one or more languages, studying the sciences and mathematics,
understanding history and how people thought about their surroundings, applying
music and art, and more! By understanding and practicing what I learn, I can do
things to make my life and the lives of other people better. But wait! I can make
a profit! I can create a business and jobs!
Thomas Edison said he would not invent anything he couldn‟t sell. How do I sell
my invention? The answer: create AWARENESS!
GETTING THE WORD OUT
My Invention Presentation
My presentation will be in three parts. First, it will give me the opportunity to
explain the benefits of my „product‟ to Regional Fair Judges during my interview.
Like the judges, companies would review my product and the work I have
performed to determine if it is original and if it has a strong potential to make a
profit. If the answers are yes, this could be very rewarding.
Second, I will prepare a display to fit in the space provided. This will allow me to
show the work I have performed, and I could even create my own product
advertisement. My prototype is the third and final part of the presentation.
Protecting a product‟s name with a TRADEMARK or literary content with a
COPYRIGHT can be very profitable. I understand I can use a temporary
trademark (?) and non registered copyright ( c.year my name* . . . . c 2004 John Doe ) by placing symbols in just the right location. These symbols alert everyone
to my claim that I came up with a unique product name, phrase, literature, or
work of art. I can pay a fee to register the trademark or copyright with the U.S.
Trademark Office and Copyright Office in Washington, D.C. (* The “c” is placed within a circle to designate copyright.)
Inventors often become entrepreneurs, people who risk time and money for the
sake of making a profit. This often results is starting a new business, A vital part
of successfully getting a new business up and running relies on having a . . .
This is optional (Not Required)
No one plans to fail; they just fail to plan.
Most inventors need money to license their new ideas, to protect their intellectual
property, for research or development, manufacturing and marketing. Do you
have a really great idea and believe it is a winner? What are you going to do
about it? How would you raise the funds to accomplish this?
Here‟s MY chance to make it happen!
I realize I am not required to complete this section for the Invention Fair
Competition, but it is a great opportunity to gain experience and maybe profit!
1. Where can I find information about writing a business plan?
2. How many different sources of money (like venture capital) can I come up
3. Any idea how much $$$ this „start up‟ business will need for the first three
years? ( Successful startup businesses use this an important milestone.)
4. The positions of leadership and the team of people I envision taking my
product or service to the top would consist of?
5. What is a possible „Marketing Strategy‟ for my product or service? 6. Who or what is the competition?
Just a reminder, “luck‟ happens when “preparation” meets “opportunity”.