Do you think inventors are a special category of people? No, with proper inputs, anyone can become an inventor.

Inventors are not born as inventors, but they are churned out. Sometimes they are inspired by inventions, sometimes by inventors, and sometimes an intense desire to solve a problem make them inventors. Usually inventors have innate curiosity and passion to learn, and once learned they can use the knowledge across various disciplines.

But we need to trigger their curiosity and satisfy their desire with motivations. An inventor will be sleeping inside an active mind. But we need to provide them with right facilities. I have some experiences that I want to share, and that may help you to understand how an inventor can be made.

I was taking a motivational class on science and technology. Specifically the program was related to product design. The attendees were students of different ages from about 9 to 15.  All of them speak Malay language that I was not well versed with. I started the class in English. But many students expressed feeling of difficulty with English. So I asked my colleague to help me and translate my words to Malay and help these students.

This made the students more attentive to the class. I gave the lessons on how to convert a concept to reality and come out with a product. I explained to them with many examples. As a practical test I gave the attendees a product design problem to solve.

I explained to them the problem faced by coconut planters in my area. Less people are willing to climb trees and pluck coconut. It is time to come out with a machine that can pluck coconuts from the trees. Even though many such technologies are available in the market, in order to sharpen their creativity I have to explain to them such that the product they are going to design is new.

After some time many students came with solutions and product drawings. Even those who were not much attentive on the initial sessions were thrilled to come out with their solutions. Many people came with product drawings that are similar to usually available solutions, a machine that climbs the tree and plucks coconuts. Some came with aerodynamic kind of solutions, like a product similar to a helicopter.

To my wonder a young boy came with a solution that as a product designer I never thought off. I am not telling the commercial or technical viability of the product, but the creativity and simplicity of the solution. The proposed solution was a spring loaded device that is placed on ground and coconuts are plucked by releasing the spring loaded device.

This is an example how creativity and inventive character of students can be raised by motivation and assigning product designing tasks to them. We have to come out with motivational programmes helping as many kids as possible realize their full potential.  Having come to understand personally the importance of self-directed, hands-on exploration to feeding intellectual curiosity and building flexible, mental capacity – which is essential for much true innovation – I am now working hard to bring these kinds of experiences more into the mainstream in our schools.

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