KCIC's US Nationals Contingent flank Programs Coordinator Kristina Gabuardy and Public Programs Manager Matt Reeves

Kansas City's Best Young Inventors Compete at Invention Convention U.S. Nationals

If you're reading this, you probably already know that the Linda Hall Library hosts our city's premier invention competition, the Kansas City Invention Convention (KCIC). Students from across the metro gather annually to pitch their inventions to their peers and judges recruited from Kansas City's robust and generous science, technology, and engineering communities.

But did you know that the competition isn't over for the winners at KCIC? Thanks to support from corporate sponsors and individual donors, the Linda Hall Library is able to provide each winning inventor expense-paid trips to compete at Invention Convention U. S. Nationals.

The Henry Ford and Invention Convention Worldwide logos

The Henry Ford and Invention Convention Worldwide logos projected onto the floor of the Henry Ford Museum.

Competing Amid Innovation Greatness

Each competitor at KCIC brings a prototype, an inventor's logbook, a poster board, and a prepared pitch for their invention. Inventions are grouped with others in their grade bands – 5th and 6th grade, 7th and 8th grade, 9th and 10th grade, and 11th and 12th grade. Students discover their rankings at our awards ceremony. This year, each of our grade tier winners took their inventions on the road to Dearborn, Michigan, home of the Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation.

For those who haven't been, the Henry Ford is an amazing sight: the museum complex covers over 250 acres. The building holds a collection of dozens of cars, a 1939 Douglas DC 3 airplane, and massive steam engines. Oh, and there are two trains, including a 1941 steam locomotive, the Allegheny. It's an enormous place.

The museum does double duty during Invention Convention U. S. Nationals. Competitors from across the nation bring poster boards, invention logs, prototypes, and their best pitch. Each student finds their judging circle amidst the artifacts from the museum. Young inventors are nestled between the collections' planes, trains, and hundreds of automobiles.

Walking the museum floor during the competition, one wonders which inventions from the competition might one day join the permanent collection.

Our Community's Generosity Supports Young Inventor Greatness

Will Korus competing in a judging circle at Invention Convention US Nationals 2023

Will Korus (second from left) competing in a judging circle at Invention Convention U.S. Nationals 2023.

The Kansas City contingent at Invention Convention Nationals represented the best innovations across all grade levels. Our youngest competitor, Will Korus, is a 5th grader from eastern Kansas. He showed the judges his invention, "Cat Guard," which helps prevent pets from getting run over by cars near homes. Gabriel Brooks and Anna Tiedt, middle school students from St. Paul's Episcopal Day School, showcased their waste management app, Recycle Pro.

Our high school contingent featured a St. Teresa's Academy trio and an individual inventor from the Blue Valley School District's Center for Advanced Professional Studies (CAPS). Gabriella Campbell, Isabel Glover, and Charlotte Hamilton showed off Spoiler Alert, a chemical that detects spoiled milk from inside the bottle that alerts the consumer by changing colors. From CAPS, Grayson Moyer brought an invention that would be right at home at any Kansas City tailgate. The Stream Cooler provides ice-cold drinks and entertainment through its embedded WIFI-capable video screen.

These seven inventors and their six chaperones each traveled thanks to the generous support of our sponsors and donors. This support included airfare, accommodations, registration fees, and all other travel expenses. Our community's commitment to excellence helped propel these young inventors from the Kansas City metro to the Henry Ford's hallowed halls of innovation history.

Even Innovators Get an (Educational) Vacation

Beyond competing, every inventor had ample time to take in the museum and the adjacent Greenfield Village. Competitors were able to take a break from practicing their pitches and see Henry Ford's childhood home, ride a working coal-fired steam locomotive, and bounce around in an authentic Model T.

Greenfield Village's most delightful and surprising artifacts are its collection of historic homes and workshops, each transplanted to Dearborn to create a fantasy hamlet of creators and innovators. The Village includes over 80 Historic structures, including the Wright Brother's Cycle Shop, Robert Frost's Greek Revival home, and Thomas Edison's Menlo Park Laboratory. The Village is also home to working farms, several mills, and a cabin replicating George Washington Carver's childhood home.

Ready for Your Chance to Represent Kansas City at Invention Convention Nationals?

After a celebratory photo and awards ceremony, the Kansas City invention contingent returned to the metro. While our four invention groups did not win additional awards at nationals, each student represented our region well. The Stream Cooler was an especially talked about invention – anecdotally, we heard many chaperones talk about "the cooler with the TV in it." Thinking beyond the inventions, we know that the skills our young inventors developed – creative problem solving, learning from failure, and communicating complex ideas - will serve each of our competitors for the rest of their lives.

Do you know a young inventor? Or perhaps you're an educator or friend of an educator? If so, please visit KCInvent.org to learn more about participating in KCIC 2024.  

Want to support Kansas City's young innovators? You can donate to KCIC here. Every dollar donated helps provide the platform and support to fuel innovation in our community. With your support, we're committed to providing students with opportunities to invent, innovate, and compete.

Who knows – maybe one day in the future, the folks at the Henry Ford will memorialize a local innovator by relocating their home from Kansas City to Greenfield Village.