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What's Your Problem? Challenge

Worldwide April 2023 - May 2023

Here’s something to look forward to: we’re implementing a bunch of annually recurring challenges that commemorate an important day, topic, or holiday throughout the year. To kick off our recurring Inventors Month challenge, we presented What’s Your Problem to children worldwide in May 2023.

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First recognised in the USA in 1998, National Inventors Month comes around each May to celebrate creativity, curiosity, ingenuity and experimentation. Technically, every month is Inventors Month for us, but May is when we like to really amp it up.

Despite how far we’ve come technologically (we’ve got more bowls, hammers, chairs, and wheels these days than you can shake a stick at), here at Little Inventors we are well aware that there are still big and small problems in life that we wish we had the ideal item or contraption to solve. Because that’s what invention ultimately boils down to: the necessity for a thing to solve either our own or someone else’s problem.

To that end, we began the challenge by asking children the world over, ‘What’s Your Problem?

Whether via DM or by emailing us at hello@littleinventors.org, we encouraged children to come up with problems according to them and send them to us with help from their adults, problems that stem from everyday things we experience at home or school or anywhere really. We collected some very interesting stuff, from a desire to make eating broccoli more tolerable to the necessity to stop Dad's snoring!

We selected our top 3 problems and the little inventors got cracking developing and designing their item that would come to the rescue and iron out their chosen problem.

1. Invent something to stop a seagull taking your food at the beach

seagull drawing

Joe, age 14 from Hull, thinks a day at the beach has it all: sun, sand and lunch with a sea view. But he's not the only one whose got their eye on those chips. Seagulls love lurking at the beach and making off with his meal. How can you stop them from taking their loot? Invent something that will protect his fish and chips or his ice cream from a hungry seagull!

2. Invent something to help you reach things high up

height drawing

Not having the height yet shouldn't stop Toby, age 8 from Edinburgh, from reaching the good stuff - but it happens! The tastiest snacks in the highest cupboard, those toy boxes on the highest shelf. All that temptation so close..and yet so far. When an adult isn't around, Toby needs to get creative in reaching the top! Which mechanisms and features could help him gain height? Invent a contraption to help Toby reach stuff.

3. Invent cutlery that is easier to use and can't be dropped

cutlery drawing

During meal times, cutlery is necessary but not always the easiest to use for Jax and Gabriella, age 7 from Cumbria. They know all too well that cutlery is super easy to drop though. One slip through their fingers and there's food all over the floor and the dog's on the way for a lick and Mum's rushing for a tea towel. Invent cutlery that's easy to use and won't hit the floor!

The seagull problem was a personal highlight and saw an abundance of submissions in particular. We encountered seagull forcefields, a hypnotising ring to get the gulls in a trance and protective food covers of all shapes and sizes.

But there was one idea that truly got the seagulls quaking in their boots: Lola’s Seagull Umbrella by Lola, age 5, from Tranmere Park Primary School in Leeds.

seagull umbrella

She won a £100 voucher for her school to spend on supplies and resources of the school's choosing, plus her own copy of The Little Inventors Handbook signed by Chief Inventor Dominic Wilcox, plus a personalised feedback video from our Project & Event Co-ordinator Phoebe. Lola was chuffed and loved doing the challenge!

Lola quote

Our Inventors Month challenges will celebrate the great minds of the past and implore ingenious young minds to produce spectacular new inventions. They will encourage children to develop their problem-solving skills and embrace the fun and possibilities of valuable STEM subjects.

We really appreciate everyone taking part and we hope you got a lot of fun, play, and inspiration from the challenge.

To stay up to date on all of our challenges and adventures, follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. You can find a list of all our challenges, past and present, open and closed here. Feel free to download any of our free resources and get stuck into a challenge at home!