Welcome to the innovation process! If you are just beginning the process, over the coming months, you will work with your family, friends, and/or trusted advisors to find a problem, create a solution, then build and/or design an innovative idea, app, or prototype. You may also be further along in your journey. You may be doing this process independently, or you may have worked with a classroom, group of friends, or another organization. No matter where you are on your journey, we are here to help you take the next steps!
Steps to becoming an innovator:
- Start looking around you for things that bug you, problems you see in your family or friends’ lives, or even things that could just work a bit better.
- Design a solution to this problem. Detail an idea, design an app, or create a prototype to model your solution. Your teacher, your parents, or another adult can help, but you must do the work. This includes researching to make sure this innovation doesn’t already exist! Or if it does exist, how does your solution improve it?
- Talk with family, friends, and experts in your field about your idea, app, or prototype to refine and improve your innovation.
- Keep a logbook or journal tracking your ideas and your innovator’s journey.
- Design a PowerPoint presentation (6 slides maximum) showcasing the story of your innovation, what problem it solves, who might use it, and anything else special about your idea, app, or prototype.
- Develop a creative pitch video capturing why other people would be interested in your innovation.
- Showcase your idea, app, or prototype at a local co-op, classroom, family night, rotary club, etc.
- Submit your idea, app, or prototype during the Innovator Challenge. Receive feedback from a panel of advisors and peers and earn a chance to present live at Nationals!
National Innovator Submission Pieces:
Should you choose to enter the National Innovator Challenge, there are three requirements for the first round that you can prepare in advance. You can download the student handbook for a complete description here.
Your logbook should include your design journey beginning with how you came up with the problem you wanted to solve and describing each of the steps that followed. Make sure you detail each of these steps along the way:
- Identify the Problem – How did you decide on this particular issue? What other problems did you consider before starting down this particular path? How did you break down the problem into smaller pieces?
- Understanding the Goal – What research did you do to understand the problem? What other solutions currently exist (and why aren’t they good enough)? Who else has this problem? How viable is your idea, app, or prototype and how large is the potential market?
- Identifying a Solution – How are you going to solve your problem? What sets your solution apart from any other existing solutions?
- Designing a Solution – How did you begin the design cycle? What problems did you encounter and how did you deal with them? How did you come up with the basis of your design? Who did you ask for help? How much money did you spend?
- For an idea – Who did you talk with to find the necessary pieces of your solution? Is the outline of your idea detailed and clear? Where would you find the resources to put your idea into practice?
- For an app – What language did you use to code and how did you learn it? Where did you build the app? Why did you choose that specific platform?
- For a prototype – Why did you choose your specific materials and where did you find them? How did you develop the skills needed to build your prototype?
- Testing and Refining a Solution – How did you evaluate your idea, app, or prototype? How did you refine your solution? Who did you go to for feedback? How many different models did you try before landing on your final solution? How have you considered the impacts of your idea, app, or prototype?
Your logbook may be handwritten or typed. For the NIC, a digital copy must be submitted (saved as a .pdf, .doc, or .docx).
Your presentation should include anything you want to highlight for the advisory panel. It should be around 5-6 slides long (and take about 3 minutes to present). If you make it through the first round of the IIC and are invited to the live event, you will have an opportunity to present this slideshow in front of your peers and a panel of advisors.
Details are in the student handbook. The presentation slideshow should include (at a minimum):
- Your name.
- How you came up with your idea, app, or prototype.
- A model of your prototype or app, or an explanation of your idea.
- Any problems you encountered along the way and how you overcame them.
- What makes your idea, app, or prototype unique and valuable.
- An explanation of the current market for your innovation.
Your presentation should be saved as a .pdf, ppt, or .pptx in order to submit it with your registration to the NIC.
Have fun and be creative! This is your elevator pitch. It’s a chance to grab people’s attention and make them intrigued with your idea, app, or prototype. More details for the requirements are in the student handbook.
The video should be 2.5-3 minutes long and include the following:
- Your name and the name of your innovation.
- A demonstration of your app or prototype, or explanation of your idea.
- How your idea, app, or prototype solves your problem.
- Why the people in your chosen market should value your idea, app, or prototype (and who those people are).
- Who you worked with.