Invention Convention

For the past 20 years or so I’ve had the distinct honor and pleasure of serving as a judge for the INVENTION CONVENTION at one of our local elementary schools.

If you’ve never actually been to an invention convention, it’s much like a science fair. The kids don’t have to follow the formal scientific method, but they do have a formula to follow.

  • List & explain three problems that really bug you
  • Determine the one that bothers you the most
  • Brainstorm a number of solutions for that problem
  • Pick the best solution and create an invention that solves the problem

Each year, of course, the children face many of the same problems; having to make up their beds, not being able to see when they get out of bed at night, and not having the time or energy to play fetch with Rover.

So, many of the inventions each year are the same. Automatic bed makers; flashlights attached to bedroom slippers, and dog toys tied on top of remote control cars.

But then one year, out of the clear blue, my own daughter came up with an invention that makes a lot of sense, and one that I’d never really considered – The Lid Lifter.

Yep, it’s exactly what you’re thinking! My wife and I have two daughters and with this 3:1 ratio in our home, there’s never been any doubt in my mind that the default position for a toilet seat is DOWN.

But my younger daughter, being the thoughtful soul she is, decided that forcing her dad to lower the seat after his every visit was unfair, so she created the Lid Lifter.

It’s really quite simple. When a male steps up to the toilet, his feet push against a wire which then pulls the toilet seat up. When he steps away, the pressure on the wire is released and the lid goes back down.

When anyone sits, with feet pointed away from the toilet (or at least, I would hope so), no pressure is applied on the wire and the seat does not go up.

Talk about a clever idea! Why is this product not commercially available today?


No Prizes For The Lid Lifter, But Still a Big Hit!

Did my daughter win first prize? No. How about second? No. Third? No. But she did win an Honorable Mention, and she was very proud. As were her parents.

Not winning top honors, of course, wasn’t her fault. Since her mother was in charge of the program and her father a judge, there was that little issue of “conflict of interest.” But that didn’t stop the media. They played up the Lid Lifter to the MAX.

My daughter, shown standing proudly beside the miniature, working version of her invention, was interviewed on the local television news, and was featured in two newspapers. Her invention was clearly the winner, whether she won any prizes or not.

I share this story with you today because our world is constantly looking for the better mousetrap, or toilet accessory, or whatever. How often have you thought there must be a better way of doing something, and yet never taken the initiative to follow through?

Today, many of us believe that anything worth inventing has probably already been invented. That just ain’t the case. Even back in 1899, it was rumored that the US Patent Commissioner said, “Everything that can be invented has been invented.”

Actually, he was misquoted, but it’s not hard to imagine that’s what most people believed then, and now! So, if you’ve got problems, put your mind in high gear, and follow the four Invention Convention steps listed above.

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