How to Help Your Teen Be an Inventor

How to Help Your Teen be an Inventor
  • Do you know who invented a test to detect early on if someone has pancreatic cancer? (Jack Andraka)

  • What about the iCPooch, a remote way to give your dog a snack and check up on him while you are away? (Brooke Martin)

  • Another inventor, Maria Elena Grimmet, found a way to filter harmful antibiotics out of the water using recyclable plastic beads!

  • At just 17 Kenneth Shinozuka, who had a grandfather with Alzheimer’s, invented socks to alert caregivers when a relative gets up at night. 

  • India native, Lalita Prasida Sripada Srisai , found a solution to the problem of unclean drinking water by using corn cobs to filter the water. The corn-cob filter removes 80% of contaminants such as detergents and oils. 


What do these five inventors have in common? They were all teenagers when they came up with their earthshaking ideas! Starting at a young age they found some creative solutions to make the world a better place. August is National Inventors Month and maybe you have a future inventor living under your roof and homeschooling is just the environment to help them flourish. Perhaps they have a lot of really cool ideas and do not know how to get started. 

Five Ways To Encourage Your Teen’s Creativity

Challenge your teen to find a problem– This could be with someone they know or even someone less fortunate that is not able to come up with a solution.
Encourage them to use what they have- They do not need a lot of expensive equipment or even a science lab. Look at what some of the inventors above used, corn cobs, and recycled plastic!
Make sure your teen has access to mentors– This could very well be a parent but consider looking outside your home as well. Do you know a welder, machinist, or even a doctor? Help them find someone in their interest field that might be open to brainstorming with your teen.
Redefinition of invention– Maybe your student is a musician and is inspired to write their own song? Maybe they enjoy writing and have an idea for an exciting novel! 
Teach them to fail graciously- There’s a chance that their idea won’t work. Help them to not feel discouraged but to treat it as another thing to problem-solve about. Encourage them to keep the creative juices flowing and not give up. Remind them about Thomas Edison and the fact he found 10,000 ways the lightbulb didn’t work before discovering how to make it work. 

They now have a solid idea that works, what next?

The first way is to start with a provisional patent, this is an inexpensive option to get the process started while they determine the invention’s potential. It is also a good idea to search to make sure that your invention has not already been thought of. An easy way to search for patents online is either through the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office ( or even Google ( 

Also, your teen needs to make sure their new idea or invention is as polished as possible. This is where a good mentor would come in handy. Allowing a trusted expert professional in the field to take a look and offer advice or suggestions on how to improve it. Keep in mind that it can take many years to go through the process of getting a patent. 

Helpful words to know

patent– This is a legal document that gives inventors control over how their inventions are made, used and sold over a set period of time. Right now it is 20 years from the date you first file a patent. 
patent claim– This is the part of the patent application that the inventor specifies their invention for legal purposes. 
patent-pending– Whoever files for a provisional or standard patent can legally say they have a patent-pending.
provisional patent– This is a quick and inexpensive U.S. patent application that provides proof when you initially filed for a patent. You must file for a standard patent before a year is up to completely protect your invention. 
royalty– A payment made when your patented invention is used. 
U.S. Patent Office– The federal government agency that is in charge of U.S. patents.










Joy Capps is a homeschool bookworm residing in the mountains of western North Carolina. The only one who loves books more is her 16-year-old daughter. They both enjoy perusing old bookstores for treasures and sniffing books. Her son who is 18 has special needs, is the social butterfly of the family and has never met a stranger. Although she is originally from South Dakota she now calls North Carolina her home and she and her family love exploring the great outdoors. Her family has been homeschooling since 2005.

August 15, 2019


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