Invention Convention U.S. Nationals 2020 FAQ

Q: When does registration open and close?

A: Registration opens on April 1st. We ask that you fill out your registration form within 2 weeks of getting your invitation to avoid everyone registering at once. We can better service any questions you might have by keeping to this schedule. Registration closes on May 27th at 11:59 PM EST.

Q: How do I know when my registration is complete?

A: You will receive an email from the zFairs platform upon completion of your registration.

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, through our independent inventor program or through various school programs. You will receive an invitation link directly from the Invention Convention Worldwide team in order to register for the competition. This link will be sent through “Constant Contact” so please be sure your email will accept all mail from this provider. Check your junk mail for emails that will come around April 1st for those who have hosted their competitions already, or within 5 days after your event ends if it takes place after the April 1st date. If you are questioning whether you should receive an invitation to the National competition, please contact your local state affiliate program to see if you have qualified for this event.

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 team members should register independently but will use the same code when registering in order to link their registration to the other members of their team. The first person from a team will register and receive a code. That team member should then pass on that code to their other team members to use when they register. Team members should all register independently and all will have access to modify the project information about their project.

Q: What if we can’t all be together to shoot our presentation video?

A: We understand that keeping distance it important during this time, therefore, one team member may shoot the presentation video on their own on behalf of the entire team. That person will want to follow the video presentation instructions and should mention each team members name at the start of the video. All team members must use the same video when they submit their own registration forms. Of course, if you have already shot a video as a team and submit that video; that is great!

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

A: The fee to register and compete in Invention Convention U.S. Nationals is $25.

Q:What is included in my registration fee?

A: At the close of the competition, you will be sent a package containing an official Invention Convention U.S. Nationals t-shirt, a certificate of participation in making it to the national level, a The Henry Ford Family Membership Pass good for one year for you and your family to visit the museum for free, and any prizes or awards you may have won during the competition.

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 to see all the great things the museum and your new family membership has to offer!

Q: What sizes do the U.S. Nationals t-shirts come in?

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: If I must cancel my registration; will I be eligible for a refund?

A: Cancellations and refunds can be made until registration closes on May 27th. After that, all registrations are committed and considered non-refundable.

Q: What if I cannot afford the registration fee?

A: The Henry Ford understands the financial burdens that occur when participating in events like this. If you are in need of assistance to participate in Invention Convention U.S. Nationals, please write to:

Q: What are the video presentation requirements?

A: Click here to see the video presentation requirements and instructions.

Q: What should I wear in my video presentation?

A: It is at the inventor’s discretion to wear what you would like for your presentation. Remember, you are representing your invention and all your hard work, and you will want to be taken seriously. Think about what that means to you and do your best to look nice for the judges.

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

A: While you may use notecards or a script to discuss your invention through prompts in your video presentation, a full 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 presentation, that you do not need a script! Practice your presentation often and have adults ask you questions about your invention while you practice. This should help you get comfortable with your presentation before you record it.

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

A: Moving to an online event this year means your items will not be measurable in the same way they would be at an in-person competition, however in preparing for next year keep in mind that we ask that you try to adhere to 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.

Q: How do I submit my video presentation to my registration form?

A: The easiest way to submit your video is to shoot your video and save it to YouTube or an online platform of your choice. You can make your link “unlisted” on YouTube. You can then copy the video link from your host and paste the link into your registration form.  Please note: if you set your video to “private” when you upload it to YouTube the judges will not be able to view your video or give you a grade for the video portion of the rubric – you must set the privacy level of your video to “public” or “unlisted”.

Q: I no longer have my prototype as it has been locked down at my school; can I still compete?

A: Yes, if you are unable to create a new prototype you can still compete, however, you will need to have a picture, a drawing or some type of blue print to show, and share, in your presentation that describes your prototype in detail.

Q: Do I have to submit my logbook/journal in order to compete in Invention Convention U.S. Nationals?

A: No, you do not have to submit your logbook or journal in order to compete in the competition. For this year’s competition the logbook scoring has been taken off the judging rubric. However, there will be a specialty award given to the best logbook for those students who wish to load their logbook onto the site and be eligible to win this award. Please see the logbook judging criteria here.

Q: How do I submit my logbook/journal to my registration form?

A: You can submit your logbook or journal as a PDF  using either a scanner app (such as the free Adobe Scan app for iOS and Android) on your phone and taking pictures of your logbook, scanning your logbook into your computer and making it into a PDF, or by using Google Classroom tools to create a link to your document. Once you create your PDF in one of these ways you can upload it to zFairs for judging purposes – use the “Paperwork” menu item in zFairs when you have completed your registration.

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. It also helps to document a student’s 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. Click here for a formattable logbook you can use.

If you are interested in submitting your logbook for judging purposes, please review our logbook judging criteria and submit a PDF of your logbook or journal to your registration form during the registration process.

Q: Do I have to submit a picture of my display board in order to compete in Invention Convention U.S. Nationals?

A: No, you do not have to submit a photo of your display board in order to compete in the competition. For this year’s competition, the display board scoring has been taken off the judging rubric as a mandatory part of the scoring. However, there will be a specialty award given to the best display board for those students who wish to compete for that prize; you will have to add a picture of your display board to your registration form when prompted.

Q: When does the awards ceremony take place?

A: The Invention Convention U.S. Nationals awards ceremony, presented by Raytheon Technologies, will be a Facebook Watch Party taking place on Thursday, July 2 at 7 PM EDT.

Q: What awards will be given out for the 2020 Invention Convention U.S. Nationals online competition?

A: Click here for a full list of awards that will be given out at the 2020 Invention Convention U.S. Nationals competition.

Q: What prizes will be given out for the 2020 Invention Convention U.S. Nationals online competition?

A: All award winners will be given an acrylic award commemorating their win. In addition, prizes will be given out for different award levels and include items such as: provisional patent awards, prototyping and design opportunities with sponsors, and technology and cash prizes.

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

A: Maybe. It depends on your home state event. Please read the rules page and look over the judging rubric for details about how the event will be judged. Many states do not require students to submit an online presentation video. We do require this at the national level. Logbooks and display boards are judged separately at the national level for this year’s online format and are not required for this year only, in order to compete in the program; however, they are required if you wish to be eligible for the “Best Logbook” award and the “Best Display Board” 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 upon 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 worthy, an invitation to U.S. Nationals will result.