U.S. Nationals FAQ

Invention Convention U.S. Nationals – General

Q: What should I wear to Invention Convention U.S. Nationals?

A: All competitors are expected to wear their Invention Convention U.S. Nationals shirts for the judging days. This shirt helps ease identification of our inventors throughout the museum. Students will be issued a t-shirt to wear upon check in. Students should not plan on wearing any type of clothing, like a business suit, on top of their shirt.

Q: Are student inventor t-shirts youth or adult sized?

A: Inventor t-shirts will be available in youth and select adult sizes; the full list will be available through your online registration form and you will choose when you fill out your form.

Q: What is the schedule of events?

A: Coming Soon

Q: If our inventor is unable to make it on time for check in on Wednesday, June 3rd, will there be an opportunity to pick up our student’s registration packet and set up their invention?

A: We do not recommend missing the check in, orientation and set up on Wednesday June 3rd, however, if you MUST miss you can arrive to the check in table between 8:30 and 9:00 AM on Thursday, June 4th to get your packet and set up your invention. Please note: a late check in may change your inventor’s experience as we cannot guarantee your inventor will be in the same grade-band circle as his/her age.

Q: Do inventors need to stay for the duration of the event?

A: Yes, you must attend the awards ceremony to be eligible to win.

Q: I found a sponsor to help fund my trip, how do they pay for my registration fees?

A: When you fill out your registration form and get to the payment section, there are options for you to pay in full, pay your partial bill and to send the bill to another party as an invoice via email. They can either pay directly with credit card via a link to your account or they can print the invoice and send it in with a check.

Q: I found a sponsor who wants to pay for my flight and/or hotel accommodations, how do they do this?

A: You must contact the hotel or airline directly and ask them to send you an invoice to send on to your sponsor to make payment.

Q: How can I make arrangements to address my food concerns?

A: We will do our best to accommodate any food concerns you have. You will be asked to list any food concerns on your registration form and those will be added to your name badge for staff to help with any accommodations you need. All meals are labeled for allergens and options are available for all types of food concerns.

Q: How do I make arrangements for any mobility issues?

A: Please indicate on your registration form any mobility issues you have and those will be flagged for us and we will reach out to you prior to the event. All shuttles can accommodate mobility issues as can the museum. If you miss your opportunity to let us know of any issues through the registration system then please contact us at inventionconventioninfo@thehenryford.org.

Q: How can family and friends who are unable to travel to Dearborn able to watch the awards ceremony?

A: The awards ceremony will be available for live streaming. Please check our website and social media channels for the video link to view. The link will also be listed in your event program and addressed at orientation. There is no cost to view the live stream event.

Q: If my family and friends travel to Dearborn, but do not purchase the full registration package, can they still view the inventions, attend the awards ceremony or otherwise participate in the event?

A: Anyone can purchase a “day pass” to the museum at any time at any time and enter the museum to enjoy the space with family and friends. Inventions are viewable to the public on Friday of the event during the popular choice selection event from 9:30 to 10:30 AM. However, in order to share in the event group-meals, use the event transportation, attend the awards ceremony in person, attend the opening night event in Greenfield Village and be given passes to other museum offerings; your guests must register for the event and pay the fee online prior to the event.

Q: What does Invention Convention U.S. Nationals cost?

A: The fee for inventors is $300. The fee for any other attendees, chaperones or guests is $350. See the Registration Flyer for what the registration fee includes.

Q: Why does the inventor’s registration fee cost less than all other attendees?

A: The inventor cost is lower due to some very generous sponsors who have chosen to provide additional funds to underwrite the inventor’s registration fees.

Q: What is the registration fee for kids 3 and under?

A: There is no registration fee for children 3 years old and under. Make sure to include your and under children on your registration form online so that the can provide the appropriate wristband so they will get in for free.

Q: If I have to cancel my registration, will I be eligible for a refund?

A: Cancellations and refunds can be made until registration closes on May 13th. After that, all registrations are committed and considered non-refundable. Registrations are transferable until May 27th. Please contact inventionconventioninfo@thehenryford.org to request a registration transfer or refund.

Hotel Accommodations and Transportation Questions

Q: Is there transportation between the airport and hotels?

A: No, attendees will need to arrange for their own transportation to-and-from the airport.

Q: Is transportation provided to-and-from the hotel and event location?

A: Yes, throughout the event, beginning Wednesday morning June 3rd and continuing through Friday night June 5th, shuttle buses will be traveling on a regular rotating basis between all hotels and The Henry Ford Museum. Shuttles will start running approximately 30 minutes prior to the start of the day events. Shuttles will continue to run approximately every 20 minutes throughout each hotel each day of the event. Note: shuttle will ONLY run to the hotels we have reserved with a group discount that are listed on our website (see below.).

Q: How do I book my hotel?

A: We have arranged for group rates at 5 select hotels. You will need to make your own reservations with the hotel of your choice. Be sure you choose to book within the selected dates of the reservation. If you would like to book outside of the selected dates, we suggest you book within the dates to get the discounted rate and then contact the hotel directly to add on extra days to the front-end or back-end of your stay. Note: you may be charged a higher rate when booking outside of the selected dates. Most

Hotel rooms for Invention Convention U.S. Nationals are reserved from June 2 to June 6, 2020 and vary in price. Please try to book all rooms by May 2, 2020 as the rooms will be released after this date. If you have trouble booking, try changing the check-in and check-out dates to accommodate your schedule

Use this link to book your hotel now.

Q: Is the cost of the hotel included in our registration fee?

A: No, the cost of the hotel is not included in your registration fee. Please see the Registration Flyer for what your registration fees include.

Q: Can we stay at a different hotel?

A: Yes, you may stay at any hotel of your choice, HOWEVER, you will NOT have access to the provided hotel shuttles or the pre-arranged breakfasts if you do not stay at one of our recommended hotel blocks. These items will have to be handled on your own and you will not be reimbursed any of your registration fee if you stay at a hotel outside of the recommended blocks.

Q: How early in the week can we arrive?

A: You can arrive whenever you would like but if you choose dates outside of the hotel blocks you will have to arrange additional days outside of the block dates with the hotel on your own and you may not be given the discounted rate for additional night’s stay.

Q: Is breakfast included in my hotel stay?

A: Yes, all hotels have breakfast accommodations for Inventio Convention U.S. Nationals attendees. Pleas ask about breakfast procedures upon hotel check in.

Invention Convention U.S. Nationals – Students

Q: Will the national event be just like my home state event?

A: Maybe. It depends on your home state event. Read the rules page for details about how the event will bake place and be judged. Many states do not require students to submit and online pitch video. We do require this at the national level. Logbooks are important to have at nationals as well.

What’s likely to be different at nationals is the use of “judging circles” which are different than one-on-one judge interviews. In judging circle, you will speak to and be asked questions by evaluators and peers–other student inventors. Be prepared to be inquisitive and curious about your fellow inventors’ inventions.

Q: What is a logbook?

A: A logbook is a journal that the student keeps from the very beginning that helps the student structure their invention thinking/process and also helps to document their path to invention (important for patent filings.). In programs that use logbooks, students will start their very earliest conceptual thinking in a logbook and chronicle this as it iterates to a completed project. While most state competitions require a logbook, they are not part of the teaching curriculum in all states.

If you are a new to logbooks, please review our logbook judging criteria. Logbooks or journals must be brought to the competition when invention displays are set up. Teams only need to submit one logbook for their project. Logbooks DO NOT need to be uploaded into the registration system.

Q: Can we participate in a team?

A: Yes, teams up to 4 students can participate and are judged against other teams and individual inventors. All members of a team do not need to attend or travel to the event, but all team members at Invention Convention U.S. Nationals must present the invention in the judging circles and take part in the on-site pitch. Note: team members who do not attend the event do not receive an award.

Q: I took part in Invention Convention U.S. Nationals last year; can I improve my invention and resubmit it?

A: Absolutely, we encourage students to learn from the experience and judges’ feedback and improve their invention. That’s the point of the invention process. Of course, you will have to reapply to attend and show significant work, either through your state program (if you have one) or by applying through the “Independent Inventor Competition” (if you do not have a state program.). If your invention is deemed worth, an invitation to U.S. Nationals will result.

Q: How much space do we have to display our invention?

A: The event supports a maximum trifold display board sized 48” wide (24” with both 12” sides folded in) by 36” tall and the trifold is expected to fit onto a footprint of no more than 30” wide (with sides folded in) on the tabletop. Your protype must fit within this pace on the table as well, or in front of the table, provided it does not encroach upon neighboring prototypes. No over-sized displays will be allowed in the judging circle. Note: electrical outlets are NOT available on the museum floor. Any prototypes requiring electricity must be battery powered, with batteries provided by the inventor.


Q: What if my prototype exceeds the display space?

A: Over-sized prototypes can be represented in picture portfolios or videos shown to the judges. The Henry Ford Museum does not provide laptops or other means for presenting electronic media. You will need to provide and be responsible for the safety of your own battery-operated equipment for such presentations.

Q: What is the best way to transport my invention to the event?

A: Shipping your invention/display board:

  • Young inventors and their families are responsible for making arrangements with a trusted shipping company (UPS, FedEx) to ship inventions to and from Dearborn, Michigan.
  • Make certain that your project is properly packaged and that the container is sufficient to withstand the rigors of travel. This will help ensure that your project arrives at the proper location in good condition and on time.
  • Contact your hotel for specific shipping and labeling instructions. Inventions MAY NOT be sent to The Henry Ford in advance of the competition. Remember to arrange for return shipping, including printing return shipping labels.
  • Pay attention to shipping timeframes to ensure the invention arrives on time.

Traveling by plane:

If you are traveling by air and wish to hand carry your project and display board, be sure to check TSA requirements. Please check with your airline carrier in advance on the best way to pack your invention for flight. In addition, ask the airline about flying with your display board. If you have batteries in your invention, please check the airline regulations about flying with batteries and other regulated materials–you can find information on what you can carry on an airplane here: https://www.tsa.gov/travel/security-screening/whatcanibring.

If you cannot store your display board on the plane or your display board arrives damaged, print out everything you need on your board and bring any decorations you might want on the board. When you arrive in Michigan, there are stores in the surrounding areas that sell boards and you can recreate them if necessary.

Q: Can I use a script to talk about my invention?

A: While you may use a script to discuss your invention through prompts in your video pitch, a script is highly discouraged, as your notecards may be distracting and result in a loss of points in the communication section of the rubric. However, a student may use their display board as a guide, but try to get so comfortable with your pitch, that you do not need a script! Practice your pitch often and have adults ask you questions about your invention while you practice. This should help you get comfortable with your pitch.

Q: Is the event open to grades K-12?

A: Yes, we welcome all invited guests, regardless of grade. Invitations are awarded through state affiliate programs or through our independent inventor program or through various school programs. Note: there will be two award ceremonies in 2020; one for grades K-2 and another for grades 3-12.


Invention Convention U.S. Nationals–Parents and Chaperones

Q: Can we attend the event with our child?

A: Yes. We encourage the whole family to participate in the event. Participants will register and pay for registration through their Invention Convention U.S. Nationals 2020 registration, sent to invited students via email. Registration will be available on March 11th and be open until May 13th. Students will be sent the invitation link in a private invitation email letter and family members can be added to the student’s registration form. Payment for all participants will occur at the end of the registration process.

Q: What activities can non-registered family members participate in?

A: Attending scheduled events with inventors requires registration. Non-registered family members may watch the awards ceremony via the online live stream and may purchase day passes to the museum but may not participate in any special events, use the shuttle transportation or take part in group meals for the event.

Q: Your inventor’s participation in Invention Convention U.S. Nationals has scored your family a year-long pass to The Henry Ford Museum! What is there to do at the museum?

A: LOTS! Please watch this great video to view attractions or visit www.thehenryford.org to see all the great things the museum and your new family membership has to offer!

Q: If we drive, where do we park?

A: You may park at the Welcome Center entrance or any other museum lot free of charge.


Invention Convention U.S. Nationals – Educators and Chaperones

Q: Can a student travel to Invention Convention U.S. Nationals alone?

A: All students must have adult accompaniment/supervision by either a designated chaperone or parent/guardian.

Q: Can schools send teachers with their inventors? If so, how many chaperones are needed per student group?

A: This is a school or Affiliate program decision. Not all Affiliates travel as a delegation and not all have chaperones please check with your delegation and school for recommendations on chaperone requirements.

Q: What will the role of educators/chaperones be at the event?

A: Educators/Chaperones will be wholly responsible for their students traveling without a parent from their departure in their home state until they return home.

Q: Are educators who are not chaperoning students allowed to attend?

A: Yes! We would love to have you join us. Please register under as an attendee at national.zfairs.com. The cost is $350 and gets you access to the museum and all events during the competition including a special VIP event.