Our fifth graders have their invention convention this week. Today they finally brought in all of their work and shared it with their classmates: an egg-breaker, a split water bottle, a solar panel snow remover (how perfect this winter!), a soccer cleat warmer, a backpack/coat hanger, a cooling sport headband, a remote control finder (we get at least a couple every year – will we ever invent one that works?), a volcano eruption emergency kit (!), a complete-care toothbrush (we get a few of these every year too!), a walker/cane combination, and many others. It’s neat to see ten-year olds thinking of problems they would like to solve. This year may not be our best year yet, but it’s still great to hear and read about these inventions – even though many are not really original, they are original to them. Our invention convention has lost some steam, we teachers do not have the time to nurture ideas, it seems – too many other priorities use up our energy. It used to be a “village” effort. The ESL teacher, paraprofessionals, teachers (like me) who do not teach science, specials teachers – we all used to get involved in helping our children moving from an idea to a prototype. Not anymore. I was talking to my colleagues at the end of the day and shared these thoughts. Can we get our administrators to consider more project-based learning in class? Our invention process relies too much on work done at home, an unfair expectation for many of our students. Maybe next year. Next year is another year. Maybe.