National Invention Convention FAQ

Have a question about the 2019 National Invention Convention presented by United Technologies Corporation at The Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation? If you don’t see the answer here, send us an email

National Invention Convention – General

Q: What should I wear to National Invention Convention?

A:  All competitors are expected to wear their National Invention Convention 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 business suit or other clothing on top of the T-shirt.

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

A: Inventor T-shirts will be available in youth and some select adult sizes. The full list will be available through the online registration form.

Q: If we are not able to make it on time for registration on May 29 will there be another opportunity to pick up our student’s registration packet?

A: Arriving on Wednesday, May 29this best as registration, orientation, and invention display setup will occur on this day.

For those few exceptions who cannot arrive on Wednesday, Judging Circles begin at 8:30AM on Thursday, May 30th, for our younger inventors. If you are arriving on Thursday, you will receive a later judging time, possibly in cross grade band circles. When you arrive to the museum, go to registration and then you must wait for a break in the judging or lunch to set up your invention display. No one will be allowed to set up while judging occurs.

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

A: We will do our best to accommodate any food concerns if they are listed as part of the registration process. However, there may be issues that we cannot fully resolve, and we ask your understanding and patience.

Q: How can family and friends who were unable to travel to Dearborn watch the Awards Ceremony?

A: The Awards Ceremony will be available for live streaming. Address for the live video link address will be available on this page prior to the event and will be provided in advance to inventors and their families. There is no cost to view the live stream.

Q: What does the national event cost?

A: The fee is $300 for inventors and $350 for all other guests.  See event flyer for what our registration includes. Note: Registration fees are not tax deductible.

Q: Why does the inventor registration cost less than for all other attendees?

A: Some sponsors have chosen to provide additional funds to underwrite the inventor registration cost.

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

A: There is no registration fee for children 3 and under. Make sure to include your 3 and under children attending when you register online so that we can provide the appropriate wristband that will get them in free.

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

A: Cancellations and refunds can be made until registration closes on May 12, 2019. After that, all registrations are committed and not refundable. Registrations are transferable until May 26, 2019. Contact to request a registration transfer.

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.

Hotel Accommodations

Q: Where should we stay in Dearborn?

A: We have arranged for group rates at 3 select hotels.  You will need to make your own reservations with the hotel.  Please see the event flyer for links to hotel registration or click here.

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 event flyer for what your registration includes.

Q: Can we stay at a different hotel?

A: You may stay at a different hotel if you wish. Some great reasons to stay at our chosen hotels:

  • We hope your young inventor will meet other inventors from across the United States and possibly from across the world.
  • Transportation provided between the official hotels and The Henry Ford Museum that may not be available from other hotels in the area.
  • We negotiated a discount rate and included breakfast with these hotels.

Q: How early in the week can we arrive?

A: You may arrive as early in the week as you like. Note: the discounted rooms begin as early as Tuesday, May 28 and end Friday, May 31.

Q: How will we get from the official hotels to The Henry Ford Museum?

A: We have arranged for buses that will make the following pick-ups/drop offs Wednesday through Friday. Note: transportation outside of event shuttles will be the responsibility of the travelers.

National Invention Convention – Students

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

A: Maybe. It depends on your home event. Read the rules page for details about how the event will take place and be judged.  Many states do not require students to submit an online pitch video.  We do require this at the National Invention Convention. Logbooks are important too at Nationals.

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 circles, 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 the 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 Invention Conventions require a logbook, they are not part of the teaching curriculum in a few states.

If you are new to log books, please review our Logbook Policy.  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 do teams?

A: Yes. Teams of up to 4 students can participate and they 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 National Invention Convention 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 National Invention Convention 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 re-apply 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).  If your invention is deemed worthy, an invitation to Nationals will result.

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

A: The event supports a maximum trifold display board size of 48” wide (24″ with both 12″ sides folded in) and 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 Prototype must fit within this space 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 inventors.

Q: What if my prototype exceeds the display space?

A: Over-sized prototypes can be represented in picture portfolios or videos shown to 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 National Invention Convention?

A: Transporting inventions via bus or car should not be a problem.  If you are flying, check with your airline carrier in advance on the best way to pack your invention for a flight. 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:

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 our notecards at the National competition and may result in loss of points in the communication section of the rubric. However, students may use their display board as a guide but try to get so comfortable withyour invention, that you do not need a script!  Practice your pitch often and have adults ask you questions about your invention.  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 and Independent School Programs.

National Invention Convention – Parents

Q: Can we attend the event with our child?

A: Yes. We encourage the whole family to participate.  Participants will register and pay for registration through their National Invention Convention 2019 registration form.  The registration link will be available from February 12 until May 12.

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 National Invention Convention Awards Ceremony online. The Awards Ceremony will be live streamed.  Address for the live video link address will be provided in advance to inventors and their families.

Q: If we drive, can we park at The Henry Ford Museum?

A: Yes, you may park at the Welcome Center free of charge.

National Invention Convention – Teachers/Chaperones

Q: Can a student travel to National Invention Convention alone?

A: All students must have adult accompaniment/supervision, either a designated chaperone or their 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. Of those that have attended as groups (by school or affiliate program) in the past, typically the allocation was one adult for eight students, with a minimum of one chaperone for each gender of attendees.

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

A: Teachers/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 attend?

A: Yes!  We would love to have you join us.  Please register under our educator registration. The cost is $350 and gets you access to the museum and all of our events…including a special teacher event.

More information about  National Invention Convention event can be viewed on the following pages: