About 6 weeks ago I mentioned that Inventors Digest was holding an essay contest for teens in order to celebrate National Inventors Month, which is in August ever year. Realizing that the timing was conflicting somewhat with the annual pilgrimage to get new clothes, school supplies and the frenzy otherwise associated with the parental bliss associated with back-to-school (can you envision me doing the celebration dance?) the deadline for entries was extended. The new deadline to submit entries is Wednesday, September 30, 2009. The contest is open to ages 12 to 17, and asks them to write a 500 word (or less) essay on a technology, tool, product or service will shape our lives in the year 2059. As the contest information explains: “In 1959, the internal pacemaker, the microchip, the Barbie doll and pantyhose were invented. Each was significant in its own right. But that was so 50 years ago.” Then the assignment asks: “What will the world look like in 2059?” IPWatchdog.com is a proud sponsor of this contest, which will award a laptop and other prizes to the winner. So spread the word.
I suspect that this will be both interesting and educational for all those who enter. As we all know, what is science fiction today becomes science fact tomorrow, as most recently evidenced by scientists transporting matter (a la Star Trek) and feverishly working on cloaking technology (a la Star Trek and Harry Potter). By some accounts the US Navy thanked Jules Verne upon the launching of its first nuclear submarine. Whether that is actually true, what is certain is that the first nuclear powered submarine was named the Nautilus, and with the backing of Chief of Naval Operations Chester Nimitz there was an effort to create a “Jules Verne Submarine.” So science fiction has always played a meaningful role in advancing technology and innovation, and will certainly continue to play a key role in the future. If you can dream it there are people who one day will attempt to make it a reality, so in my opinion there is no better way to get our youth interested in inventing than getting them interested in science fiction. On some level every invention starts out as science fiction and the effort and toiling turn it into reality.
“It’s about encouraging young people to tap their inner optimism and creativity,” said Mike Drummond, editor of Inventors Digest. “We’re asking students to look past the present and think big for the future.” When asked about how the contest is proceeding to date and what he has seen turned in so far, Drummond said: “We haven’t been disappointed. We’ve received hundreds of entries so far, and almost all reflect the spirit of innovation and hope for the future. Pretty inspiring stuff.”
But lets keep our focus — there are also cool prizes as well! While we are encouraging our kids to do something educational and worthwhile, let’s not lose sight of the immediate motivating factor for them. Like every good inventor, having rewards and motivation in mind can create a better work product! So, in addition to the laptop already mentioned, the Grand Prize includes:
- A laptop computer
- Your essay published in Inventors Digest
- A year’s subscription to the magazine
- Possible appearance on the Emmy Award-winning PBS series Everyday Edisons
- A killer T-shirt
- Brain-teaser games
Entry rules: Download official entry and all permission forms below. All essays must be original work of the student. Only 1 (ONE) entry per student. Submit essays and forms to Inventors Digest, firstname.lastname@example.org with Essay Contest in the subject line or mail to Inventors Digest, Essay Contest, 520 Elliot St., Ste. 200, Charlotte, NC 28202 or fax to 704.333.5115. Include your birth date, school, address and phone number.
Criteria: Entries will be judged on clarity and vision of how we will use new technology or products in the year 2059. Winning essays will demonstrate imagination rooted in science and engineering principles. In other words, the best essays will show what’s possible as well as practical.
Permission Form (required)
Official Entry Form (required)
Sponsors include Hewlett-Packard, Microsoft’s Imagine Cup, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, the Lemelson Center at the Smithsonian, the Charlette Observer, Intellectual Ventures, Edison Nation and, of course, IPWatchdog.com.
About Inventors Digest:
Inventors Digest, the longest-running international magazine for independent inventors and the leading print and online publication for the innovation culture. Inventors Digest is committed to educate and inspire independent and professional inventors. Inventors Digest is available by subscription and at select newsstands.
For more information on the contest contact:
Mary Dickson / Meredith Beck
Edison Nation, Public Relations
704.405.0710 / 704.369.7337