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Invention Studio

The Age of Invention

By June 13, 2023No Comments

From a senior U.S. patent official to a Gen Z entrepreneur seeking her first patent, the message was clear to the middle school students who participated in KID Museum’s Invent the Future program: Anyone, at any age, can be an inventor.

“Raise your hand if you’re an inventor. Every hand in this room should be up,” 19-year-old keynote speaker Dasia Taylor told the crowd gathered June 3 at the Universities at Shady Grove. “Age by no means defines when you can or cannot invent.”

Taylor became an inventor when she entered her high school’s science fair and developed sutures that change color when they detect infection. Now she’s building a company to market her potentially lifesaving medical innovation. (Learn more about Dasia’s innovation journey in this TV interview on DC channel FOX 5 with KID Museum Chief Impact Officer, Dorothy Jones-Davis.)

Taylor told Invent the Future participants that she had never entered a science competition until 11th Grade. “If I had never raised my hand in that classroom,” she said, “I would not be standing in front of you today.”

Elizabeth Dougherty, a 31-year employee of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, reinforced the importance of taking risks and not being shy about sharing one’s ideas and seeking feedback.

“Invention should not have to take place in secret. It should not have to be a hidden passion,” said Dougherty, who directs outreach for USPTO’s eastern regional office. “Our world needs more problem-solvers.”

Indeed, problem-solving is at the heart of the Invent the Future Challenge, which KID Museum produces annually with Montgomery County Public Schools. Students in 6 through 8th grades work in teams to create an invention answering the question: What will you make to improve life on this planet? While developing solutions to problems locally and globally, students problem-solve together as they develop, design and refine their inventions.

That’s how adults work best too, said William Ellis, director of external affairs for regional electricity supplier Pepco, which sponsors the Invent the Future program along with Google. “Working together to innovate and to iterate always produces a better solution.”

2,000 middle school students participated in Invent the Future during the 2022-23 school year, from 21 schools in Montgomery County and the DMV region. The Invent the Future course curriculum entails at least 55 hours of hands-on STEM learning per student, including four visits to KID Museum to learn maker skills and work on the team project. Importantly, there is no menu of societal problems from which students must choose. Participants pursue what interests their team, as illustrated in a Washington Post feature article showcasing Parkland Middle School’s inventions.

Award-winning creations at the culminating celebration included a dog-walking robot to help elderly pet owners, shoes with trackers to prevent child abductions, a robot that inspects train tracks for potential problems, an e-waste sorter that attaches to garbage trucks, and “a cow fart converter” that converts methane into clean energy.

Congratulations to these teams that won awards at the celebration


Presented by Shuhan Majid, Google

The Expert Machine

a machine that uses UV light, worms, crushers and different layers to compost food faster and easier

Parkland Middle School

Cow Fart Converter

a power plant that uses the methane in cow’s farts to create clean energy

Farquhar Middle School

Electro Pot (FGP)

a pot that helps plants grow faster and tells farmers/people how healthy they are

Rosa M. Parks Middle School

Algae Boom-away

a motor powered device that works underwater to collect the invasive algae

Roberto Clemente Middle School

Shower 3000

a device that filters dirty water from a lake/river to create clean water people can use to take showers/baths

Montgomery Village Middle School

6-8 Train Track Safety

a robot that rides on the train tracks and checks to see if any of them are broken – if it finds something it will send a signal to the station and conductor

Shady Grove Middle School

Local Changemaker

Presented by Dr. Peggy Pugh, Chief Academic Officer of Montgomery County Public Schools

1-3 Sorting Ewaste on Garbage Trucks in Maryland

a robot that is fitting on garbage trucks and separates the e-waste from the other trash

Shady Grove Middle School

1-9 Saving Easter Screech Owls in Washington, D.C. from Light Pollution

a device that looks like a mouse and lures owls away from areas with high light

Shady Grove Middle School

Trash Sorter

a conveyer belt in trash cans at schools that sorts the students trash for them

Eastern Middle School

Bloom Boom

a solar powered device that spreads around the algae to allow sunlight, with hydrogen peroxide, an eco friendly chemical, that will kill algae

Silver Spring International Middle School


a lead filtration system that would be implanted into city pipes to help keep people’s water clean in cities like Baltimore

Roberto Clemente Middle School

Crabin Communities

a small portable underwater home for crabs to help keep them safe and increase their population

Guardian-led Team

Collaborative Design

Presented by Will Ellis, Director of External Affairs, Pepco

Masks for Delhi

a mask that filters the air pollution using a multi-layered filter
and an air freshener for people in Delhi

William H. Farquhar Middle School

Renewable Energy Car

a car that uses wind and solar power to move. Helping to r
reduce pollution from gas

Redland Middle School


an alarm system that uses a soil moisture detector, smoke detector, piezo buzzer and LCD to help detect wildfires before they happen

Roberto Clemente Middle School

Ocean Recooler

a device that takes in heated water around ships and cools it using a fan, coiled tubes, and bags of coolant

Roberto Clemente Middle School

Tree Preservers

a device that measures the health of trees and dispenses nutrients to revitalize areas where there are unhealthy trees

Roberto Clemente Middle School

1-8 Creating a fire extinguisher that is less toxic

a fire extinguisher that has 4 chambers that can be used for specific types of fires, helping reduce the toxic chemicals caused by normal fir extinguishers

Shady Grove Middle School

6-5 Removing Toxic Chemicals from Train Cargo

a cylinder container that uses a see-through lining, locking lid, suction cups, and cushions to help make transporting toxic chemicals on trains safer

Shady Grove Middle School

Social Impact

Presented by Will Jawando, Councilmember, Montgomery County

The Multi School Supply

a multi-tool that combines a pencil with multiple colors, an easer and a roll of tape that allows girls in Pakistan access to cheaper school supplies

Redland Middle School

Project: BadGoneBreezy

a cyclone like device that sucks in polluted air and cleans it

Roberto Clemente Middle School

Mental Mentor Vender (MMV)

a vending machine for students that dispenses notes containing information on mental health

Roberto Clemente Middle School

6-6 Walking Senior Citizens Dogs

a robot for senior citizens with dogs that can walk, feed and scoop their dogs feces

Shady Grove Middle School

Shooting Stars

shoes that have a tracker in them so that your friends/family will know where you are

Parkland Middle School


Presented by Elizabeth Dougherty, Eastern Regional Outreach Director, U.S. Patent and Trademark Office

Powerful Solar Oven

an inexpensive solar oven that people can use to cook all types of foods

Rosa M. Parks Middle School

Period Supply Robot

a robot that uses data via an app to deliver period supplies and diapers to people who need them.

Thomas W. Pyle Middle School


a satellite that tracks pollution levels and sends signals to help scientists monitor and find sources

Montgomery Village Middle School

Hide and Sleep

a new type of alarm that has multiple ways to wake the user up

Eastern Middle School

DSWDP (Dirty and Salty Water Desalination Plant)

a water filter that uses multiple methods to clean water

Silver Spring International Middle School

Water Spouter

a large sprinkler device to stop wildfires

Roberto Clemente Middle School

Call to Action

Presented by Anne Khademian and Joyce Fuhrmann, Universities at Shady Grove

Health Water

a water filter that heats dirty water to create clean steam and then collects the clean water droplets in a clean bucket

Silver Spring International Middle School

1-6 Saving the Crops in India

a building with a greenhouse on the roof that uses the flood waters to spin a motor to power the building and supply the crops with water

Shady Grove Middle School

Water Indicator

a device that tells people if their water is clean before they drink it

Roberto Clemente Middle School

Air Pollution Filter

a better, more improvised air filtration system, with four layers of air filtration (algae, cotton, charcoal, and heat) instead of three

Briggs Chaney Middle School