Northern New England Invention Convention

Northern New England Invention Convention

The capstone regional event for the Young Inventors’ Program is the Northern New England Invention Convention. Students from New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and Vermont showcase their projects and celebrate together with the Academy’s staff, board, and volunteers.

The 2022 Northern New England Invention Convention expects to be an IN-PERSON event. We have big plans to showcase our young inventors and celebrate with a day full of STEM festivities for all. The 2022 event dates and details will be announced in late Fall 2021.

The 2021 NNE-IC’s VIRTUAL competition took place April 6-April 20, with our awards announcement made on May 2 in a Virtual Celebration. We are grateful for all of our volunteers and proud of our young inventors for their remarkable achievements.

This page details how to compete, competition guidelines, and FAQs about submitting video presentations and photos for our virtual competition.

If you have any problems, please contact Tina White, Director of the Young Inventors’ Program at: Tina.White@unh.edu or 603-862-3401.

Northern New England Invention Convention

Teacher Nomination Deadline
2022 Dates TBA 

Nominate Students*
* Only YIP teachers/leaders may nominate students for the regional event

Inventor Registration Deadline
2022 Dates TBA 
* Nominated students’ parents/guardians will be emailed registration instructions.

Registration Cost: $25 per inventor
If cost is a barrier, YIP offers scholarships for students. Instructions will be included in nomination messages.

Categories of Competition

General Invention & Design Category

The General Invention & Design Category includes inventions developed through the Invention & Design track of the YIP program. In this track, students have the freedom to identify any problem and design a solution for it. From environmental concerns, helping those with physical disabilities, to pet care and fun and leisure inventions, projects in the general category cover an infinite range of topics.

Challenge Category

Each year, the Young Inventors’ Program offers an additional challenge. Inventors who accept the challenge must incorporate a special element into their invention design. The Challenge Invention Category includes all inventions which incorporate the year’s theme. These inventions are developed through the Invention & Design track of the program, similar to the General Invention & Design Category, however the Challenge may provide more direction for students who need guidance to choose a problem to solve, or for those students seeking to push themselves to think outside of the box around the challenge theme.

The 2022 Challenge theme will be announced late Summer 2021.

Chain Reaction Machine Category

The Chain Reaction Machine Category (formerly known as the Rube Goldberg® Machine Category) allows inventors to design a contraption or device that is deliberately over-engineered to perform a simple task in a complicated fashion. These inventions are not eligible to advance to Invention Convention U.S. Nationals as they do not include this category.

How to Compete

Students nominated by their YIP teachers/leaders will receive an official invitation from YIP to participate in the NNE- Invention Convention. All details and requirements for competition will be shared with the inventors and their families as they prepare for the event. Students will be expected to attend the invention convention for a full day of presentations and activities. Each inventor should bring their invention project, including their Inventor Journal or logbook and a tri-fold/3-panel display board, and all inventors will participate in judging sessions. Each inventor must be accompanied by a parent/guardian at the competition. Parents/guardians are required to complete the  media release form part of the registration process. Students participating as Independent Inventors must participate in the Independent Student Invention Fair where they may be nominated.

General & Challenge Categories Competition Requirements

1) Inventor Journal/Logbook

The journal/logbook documents the student’s journey and all aspects of their invention process from the time they begin their project until they finish. The journal will describe the evolution of the invention and how it was changed as it developed, including brainstorming ideas, design plans, materials used, tests and observations, and modifications made. It should be a written record of the process of creating the invention and should be written as the invention is being worked on, not written as a report after the project is complete.

The journal/logbook should include the following:

  • Title Page with Student(s) name(s), grade, school, city, and state
  • At least one labeled design/sketch/diagram of invention
  • Statement of Originality
  • Intent to Invent (statement of the problem and your invention solution)
  • Materials List

TIPS

  • Sign and date pages as you add entries during your invention process.
  • Use pen or pencil and do not erase. Mistakes and failures are part of the process and it is important to see how the invention changed as it was developed.
  • The journal can be messy, but it must be readable. Notes and pages crossed-out are ok to show how you made changes as you worked. You want to show the entire process, even the parts that did not go as expected.

2) Display Board

A traditional tri-fold/3 panel display board is recommended to provide a visual aid for presentation. Inventors are encouraged to be creative in their displays to best communicate their ideas. Materials for the display may be handwritten or printed and pasted. Displays may illustrate how the idea was thought up, research performed, tests and results data, other peoples impressions about the usefulness of the invention or personal testimonies of the invention’s uses. Photos and design drawings are strongly recommended.

Maximum size: maximum of 48″ wide and 24″ tall (the board should be 24″ with both 12″ sides folded in.)

Displays must include the following:

  • Student(s) name(s)
  • Grade(s)
  • School name
  • School city, state
  • Invention Name
  • Statement of the problem
  • Explanation of the invention as a solution to the problem
  • Details of the model/prototype construction
  • Diagrams of Design

TIPS

  • The display should be balanced and organized in a logical, sequential order
  • Keep the amount of text to a minimum
  • All text should be easy to read (think about size of lettering and bold colors) and neat
  • Photographs, illustrations/drawings, and charts are strongly encouraged

3) Presentation/Pitch

Each inventor will be asked to speak about their invention for 3-6 minutes in front of judges and peers during the invention convention. Presentations are an opportunity for the inventor to share their idea and how it was developed. Inventors are encouraged to talk about the steps they took to design and build their model, their tests and results, challenges they faced throughout the project and modifications they made to their invention. Inventors may show models and use their display board as a visual prop as they speak. A brief Question & Answer session will follow each inventor’s presentation to allow judges to ask questions and inventors to share more about their project. Young inventors (grades K-2) may use notecards or be prompted by nearby adult; inventors in grades 3-4 may use notecards; and inventors in grades 5-12 may not use notecards.

All presentations should include the following:

  • Student(s) name(s)
  • Grade(s)
  • School name
  • School city, state
  • Invention Name

TIPS

  • Practice out loud in front of a family member, teacher or friend at least 5 times to become familiar with your speech. You can also practice alone in front of a mirror.
  • Take a deep breath. If you get nervous, it is ok to pause, take a breath, and start over. There is no rush when speaking and your audience appreciates time to think about what you are saying as well.
  • Time yourself. Time yourself as you give your presentation from start to finish. Speak at a normal pace, which will probably seem slower than you think it should.
  • Make eye contact with your audience as you speak. Try to make eye contact at least 3 times.
  • Summarize and restate. At the end of your presentation, repeat your most important points to summarize your project.
  • SMILE! When you smile, your whole body relaxes. And smiling is contagious- if you smile, your audience will too.

4)  Prototype/Model/Design

A 3-D model or prototype of the invention is strongly recommended, but not required for competition. A detailed, labeled drawing of the design is sufficient for the display and presentation. Prototypes and models may be working or non-working. Inventors are encouraged to build models that are “materials neutral”, meaning they can be made of reused and recycled materials and the overall product should not require money to buy materials. Any materials that are used, whether purchased or found/borrowed, should be listed in the Materials List in the inventor’s journal/logbook.

5) Registration & Release forms

  • Complete our registration form with $25 participation fee.
  • Scholarships available if cost is an issue. Please email Tina if cost will prevent you from participating: Tina.White@unh.edu.
  • All required releases (participation, media, etc.) will be included in the registration and details for submission will be included.

Online registration for the 2022 Northern New England Invention Convention will be opening Winter 2021-22.

Chain Reaction Machine Category Competition Requirements

1) Inventor Journal/Logbook

The journal/logbook documents the student’s journey and all aspects of the creation of their chain reaction machine from the time they begin their project until they finish. The journal will describe the evolution of the machine, the simple machines it uses, and how it completes a task. The journal should record brainstorming ideas, design plans, materials used, tests and observations, and modifications made. It should be written as the machine is being worked on, not written as a report after the project is complete.

The journal/logbook should include the following:

  • Title Page with Student(s) name(s), grade, school, city, and state
  • At least one labeled design/sketch/diagram of chain reaction machine
  • Statement of the problem by the machine or task being done
  • Explanation of the use of simple machines to complete the task
  • Details of the model/prototype construction
  • Diagrams of Design
  • Materials List

TIPS

  • Sign and date pages as you add entries during your invention process.
  • Use pen or pencil and do not erase. Mistakes and failures are part of the process and it is important to see how the machine changed as it was developed.
  • The journal can be messy, but it must be readable. Notes and pages crossed-out are ok to show how you made changes as you worked. You want to show the entire process, even the parts that did not go as expected.

2) Chain Reaction Machine

The chain reaction machine itself is the heart of the invention project and is a required element for competition. A small display may accompany the machine, but the machine serves as the main attraction for this category.

Chain Reaction Machines must include the following:

  • Student(s) name(s)
  • Grade(s)
  • School name
  • School city, state
  • Chain Reaction Machine Name
  • Statement of the task being completed

All Chain Reaction Machines must also:

  • Take at least 6 steps to complete the desired task
  • Steps and machine components should be labeled appropriately on display or machine
  • Incorporate a minimum of 4 of the following simple machines
    • Wheel & Axel
    • Pulley
    • Inclined Plane
    • Screw
    • Wedge
    • Lever

3) Presentation/Pitch

Each inventor will be asked to speak about their chain reaction machine for 2-3 minutes in front of judges and peers during the invention convention. Presentations are an opportunity for the inventor to share their idea for designing the machine to complete a specific task and how it was developed. Inventors are encouraged to talk about the simple machines they used and how these machines work together, the steps they took to design and build their model, their tests and results, challenges they faced throughout the project and modifications they made to their machine. Following the presentation, the inventor will have an additional 3-4 minutes to put their machine into action to perform a complete and successful run to complete the task. A brief Question & Answer session will follow each presentation to allow judges to ask questions and inventors to share more about their project. Young inventors (grades K-2) may use notecards or be prompted by nearby adult; inventors in grades 3-4 may use notecards; and inventors in grades 5-12 may not use notecards.

All presentations should include the following:

  • Student(s) name(s)
  • Grade(s)
  • School name
  • School city, state
  • Invention Name

TIPS

  • Practice out loud in front of a family member, teacher or friend at least 5 times to become familiar with your speech. You can also practice alone in front of a mirror.
  • Take a deep breath. If you get nervous, it is ok to pause, take a breath, and start over. There is no rush when speaking and your audience appreciates time to think about what you are saying as well.
  • Time yourself. Time yourself as you give your presentation from start to finish. Speak at a normal pace, which will probably seem slower than you think it should.
  • Make eye contact with your audience as you speak. Try to make eye contact at least 3 times.
  • Summarize and restate. At the end of your presentation, repeat your most important points to summarize your project.
  • SMILE! When you smile, your whole body relaxes. And smiling is contagious- if you smile, your audience will too.

5) Registration & Release forms

  • Complete our registration form with $25 participation fee.
  • Scholarships available if cost is an issue. Please email Tina if cost will prevent you from participating: Tina.White@unh.edu.
  • All required releases (participation, media, etc.) will be included in the registration and details for submission will be included.

Online registration for the 2022 Northern New England Invention Convention will be opening Winter 2021-22.

Project Restrictions- for all categories of competition

The following items are not allowed on your person or in your project:

  • Electric stun guns, martial arts weapons or devices
  • Guns, replica guns, ammunition, and fireworks
  • Knives of any size
  • Mace and pepper spray
  • Razors and box cutters

Eligibility

Inventors from grades K-12 who have participated in a school/local Invention Fair and have been nominated by their teacher or leader are eligible to compete in the regional Invention Convention. Nominated inventors must register for the regional event by the stated deadline. Individuals and teams may compete in only one of the three categories of competition.

Teams

The Young Inventors’ Program encourages collaboration and welcomes teams to compete in the Northern New England Invention Convention. Teams may compete against individuals, and vice versa. All team members must participate in the development of the invention and should keep their own YIP Inventors Journal or invention logbook.

Rules for Teams:

  • Two (2) students will be allowed per General or Challenge Invention Team.
  • Teams of up to four (4) students will be allowed per Chain Reaction Machine Team.
  • Students do not have to be from the same grade.
  • Each student can enter only one project (General Invention & Design Invention, Challenge Invention or Chain Reaction Machine) for the School/Local Invention Fair, the regional Invention Convention, and the Invention Convention U.S. Nationals.
  • No student can enter both an individual and a team project.
  • Teams will compete against individuals and vice versa.
  • The judging process for individuals and teams is exactly the same at all levels.

Invention Convention Judging

The judging process is an important component of the regional competition. Judges at the Northern New England Invention Convention receive training to understand the goal of the program and their roles as judges.

As they review inventors’ projects, judges are asked to keep in mind that:

  • All participants are winners, having already won at their school/local level.
  • Participants include some first-time inventors. They may be nervous in their presentations.
  • Judging process is a positive experience for students to showcase their ideas and celebrate their accomplishments.
  • Presentations will not be judged on the quality of video submissions; rather the content and ideas presented by students.

Inventions at the Northern New England Invention Convention will be judged according to category of competition: General Invention & Design, Challenge Inventions, and Chain Reaction Machine Inventions. Judges will be assigned in teams of at least two people for grade level awards.

Judging Criteria

Each category of competition will be evaluated on a set of stated criteria by the judging team. Judges will be given a standard rubric/scoresheet to guide their evaluations. Judges will discuss their notes and their scores and to deliberate before selecting winners in various award categories.

General Invention & Design Inventions & Challenge Inventions criteria

Originality/Usefulness

  • Does the invention represent an original and creative thought?
  • Is the invention a novel or unique solution to an identified problem?
  • Does the overall presentation of the invention reflect creative or original work?
  • Does the invention have marketable value?

Research Performed

  • Was time and effort given to see if this invention has already been invented?

Chain Reaction Machine Inventions criteria

Use of Simple Machines

  • Is there evidence of 4 simple machines used at least once
    • wheel & axle
    • pulley
    • incline plane
    • screw
    • wedge
    • lever

Construction/Complexity

Is it safe and reasonably well constructed?

Does the task use at least 6 steps?

Successful completion of task

  • Does the chain reaction machine complete the task successfully when run during presentation.

Creativity

  • Creativity and overall appearance of the completed contraption and the task it accomplishes.

Regional Awards

The Young Inventors’ Program seeks to inspire and encourage students to engage in STEM activities at all levels. Participation is always recognized and inventors are commended for their efforts to challenge themselves and to take positive risks to create and present their inventions. All inventors are considered successful and we strive to celebrate their accomplishments.

Awards are presented in addition to recognition for participation in all three categories of competition, across grade levels, in designated specialty categories, and best in show achievement. In addition, the Young Inventors’ Program will grant Best In Show awards which may change year to year. An inventor/team may win up to two awards at the Northern New England Invention Convention.

Select winners at the regional Invention Convention will be invited to represent the Northern New England region at the Invention Convention U.S. Nationals hosted by Invention Convention Worldwide in partnership with the Henry Ford. Designated regional Invention Convention awards serve as National Qualifiers and automatically qualify an inventor for the national competition. Other regional winners may be invited to participate at the national level as space allows and these inventors and their teachers will be contacted following the regional convention.

Regional Nominations

Program teachers and leaders nominate student winners from each school or organization’s local invention fair for the Northern New England Invention Convention. School and local programs may develop their own award systems and processes to nominate students for the Northern New England Invention Convention.

Typically this allows schools/organizations to nominate the winning inventions in each of the categories of competition per grade level: General Invention & Design Category, Challenge Invention Category, and Chain Reaction Machine Category. Nomination deadline is typically in early March.

Please remember that schools and organizations must be registered as a YIP Program to be able to nominate students for the regional competition. If you have not registered or are unsure, please contact us as soon as possible at 603-862-3401.

Competition Checklist

Use our checklist to ensure that you don’t miss items needed to compete.