K-12 Instructional Activity Guide

Page 4 - Inventor's Log

Before you begin work on your invention, you need to decide how you are going to keep your inventor's notebook (we will call it your Journal). Keeping a journal is a very important part of the invention process. Your journal can help you prove that you had the idea for this invention first. Inventors sometimes have to prove they were "first to invent" in order to receive a patent. As well, your journal can help you keep track of all your ideas, and it will help you organize all of the steps required to complete the invention process. Although your journal is a personal and creative diary of inventing, it will be helpful to you if you need to prepare an Official Inventor's Log for an Invention Convention; this process is similiar to preparing a Patent Application for the United States Patent Office.

Some hints for keeping your inventor's journal:

Make sure you use a large enough notebook for your log.
Remember to write your ideas down often so you don't forget them.
Don't leave out anything -- your failures are just as important as your successes when you are an inventor.
Be sure the writing is legible.
Your journal should include all of your ideas, problems with the ideas, possible solutions, drawings of possible solutions, results of interviews, results of surveys, tests, etc.
Include all the books, places, other references and people you use as resources for your invention research.
Write down what things your parents or other adults do for you during the project, and what work is your own.
Make sketches and drawings to remind you of your ideas and make things clear to others. Try to make the drawings of your ideas as soon as they come to you -- so you don't forget!
Include photos of your work along the way -- they are good proof of what you have invented.
List all your costs and describe all the materials you use in making your invention. You can include receipts if you want.
Have an adult sign and date your journal as a witness to prove that the work and the ideas are your own. Do this often during the invention process.

next: Researching an Invention