Get Involved!

Educator Guide

Our free K-8 Invention Convention curriculum has been put to the test by Chicago educators and will soon be open to educators across the state of Illinois.

Empower students through invention.

This program trains you in its project-based K-8 curriculum. The  invention curriculum is free, flexible, and standards-based (aligned to NGSS and Common Core).

With dynamic activities and flexible pacing guides, the CSIC curriculum can be adapted to fit your classroom’s unique needs. You are eligible to participate if you are an educator in the Chicago region who reaches
K-8 students at:

  • schools (public and non-public)
  • libraries
  • youth centers & out-of-school-time learning spaces

We are also looking for any K-8 educators elsewhere in Illlinois who are interested in participating in our SY22-23 expansion pilot.

“I think that this program allows the students to have more ownership in what they’re learning. And because they come up with a problem they want to solve, it’s something they’re not going to give up on. They’re excited because it’s their idea.”

-Sonia Torres, Teacher at Jungman Elementary

Why Should I Join CSIC?


Thanks to our sponsors, CSIC and all of its resources are free for any K-8 educator in the city of Chicago and the surrounding Chicagoland region.


NGSS and Common Core Standards Based – meet requirements while enriching student learning

Interdisciplinary – STEAM meets entrepreneurship meets ELA. Invention Education expands across disciplines. It also exposes students to problem-solving in different industries: energy, consumer goods, technology, healthcare, and more.

21st Century Skills –  The program enhances core skills like creative problem-solving, critical thinking, collaboration, communication, resilience, and empathy.

Differentiated Education – Since inventors control their own learning, the lessons accommodate varied student needs and learning styles. Innovation is for everyone!


New to Invention Education? — The full grade band curriculum is available for you to take your students through the invention process from start to finish.

Already Doing Something Fun? — NFTE, Robotics Club, Science Fair, another specific curriculum. Whatever your students are already engaged with, CSIC can be the authentic audience and venue for their hard work.

Wide Reach at Different Settings — We are open to all K-8 in-school and after school programs and classrooms in the Chicagoland region. 

Growing Hybrid Options– CSIC was forced to become a virtual program from 2020-2021. In future years, CSIC will continue to expand its hybrid options for a mixture of in-person and virtual engagement opportunity. 

Implementation Possibilities– A flexible program, ideal for 10 weeks, but scalable to an Invention Week or Invention Month. Fits before, during, or after school. Minimum 1 student inventor and no maximum. Involve a whole grade level or multiple classes!


Student-Centered Learning– The curriculum leads students through the invention process to solve against a problem of their own choosing. Because the problem-solving begins with student interests and ends with their own expertise, even students who say “I’m not good at science” deeply connect with the curriculum.

Fun Resources

K-8 Invention education curriculum aligned to standards such as NGSS and Common Core

Orientation training to become an official CSIC invention educator and to assist with school implementation.

Continued support and coaching for educators

A scope and sequence for how to maximize your time through the curriculum

Access to a suite of partner resources Current Program >>

Acceptance into a global and local community of invention educators, like Lemelson MIT’s InventEd

Mentorship with industry professionals to connect their real world experiences with your students’ inventions

Communication about important dates, deadlines, news, and media opportunities

Media exposure: students have been featured on ABC, Fox, NBC, The New Yorker, and The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon News >>

Access to escalating public events:

  • CSIC annual regional competition
  • Invention Convention Worldwide: U.S. Nationals Competition at the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan Competition >>

Getting Started

To participate in the program, follow these easy steps to get connected with us!


Choose the setting.

During class time, after school, or at home?


Select which grade levels will participate.

Multiple grade levels from K-8 at each site can participate.
Minimum 1 student inventor with no maximum


Decide when the program will run.

Typical timeline is January – April, but can vary.


Plan instruction time.

Pacing options include:

  • 10-week curriculum (most common)
  • Invention Week (intense, focused, time sensitive)
  • Invention Club (after school/weekend, moderate structure)
  • Or customized to your needs

Set a budget.

Thanks to our generous sponsors, CSIC is a free program

Possible expenses are:

  • For educators: Event expenses for local/class convention (optional)
  • For students: Cost of any non-reused materials for inventing

    Remember: “To invent, you need a good imagination and a pile of junk.”
    -Thomas Edison


Register and sign-up for orientation.

  • Multiple educators at one site can participate.
  • Each educator interested in participating should register for the program
  • Once registered, educators can log in to their account to view options for orientation 
  • While logged in to your account, schedule orientation to become a trained invention educator and officially onboard into the CSIC program!
“Everything is meant to be cost free, so I really encourage the students to look around their house and find things. I feel like they develop a different way to think outside the box that they can carry it into everyday life.”
-Niranjani Prabhakar, Teacher at Andrew Jackson Language Academy

Implementing The Program

Submit Implementation Plan

After registering and attending orientation, it’s time to submit your Implementation Plan. Educators are welcome to use the curriculum in whatever way works best for them. Only you can know your own staffing and students’ needs.

Use Invention Resources

Connect to resources by logging in to your CSIC account to access to:

*K-8th grade NGSS-aligned Invention Curriculum
*Events Calendar (PD for educators and events for students)
*Partner Resources (free access to digital learning tools, workshops, webinars, videos, and more!)

Engage with the Community

Engage parents! Provide them information about this exciting program through letters home or invite them to a Parent Information Night.

Engage mentors! Sign up for an optional classroom mentor to support student learning. Mentors come from innovation or entrepreneurial industries and share real world experience with students.

Engage with invention educators! Did you know that you are not the only person who loves invention education? You will be part of this professional community and can network with likeminded educators across the region.
Engage with invention educators! Did you know that you are not the only person who loves invention education? You will be part of this professional community and can network with likeminded educators across the region.

Select the Finalists 

Your student inventors should be prepared to deliver their invention pitches in time for the annual CSIC spring convention. You may host a local school/district competition to determine finalists. (Invite families and other classes to come in and view the invention displays!) You can also pick finalists without a competition.

Participate in the Convention

  • The percentage of each site’s inventors who can move on to the CSIC regional competition will be announced in February/March
  • Anywhere from 100-400 student finalists participate in the CSIC convention each year, selected from 2,000-5,000 student inventors
  • Students prepare pitches to share with judges who provide feedback on their inventions
  • Students win top prizes like patents, prototyping services, museum passes, and coding classes
  • Winners at CSIC continue to compete at U.S. Nationals

Program Timeline

August - SeptemberOnboarding / Orientation
  • K-8th grade educators register for the program
  • Teachers attend trainings to learn the NGSS-aligned invention curriculum
  • CPDUs offered
OctoberCommit to Free Program / Submit Implementation Plan
  • Teachers create online CSIC account
  • Teachers submit implementation plan
  • Mentor Match (optional) begins
November - JanuaryImplementation
  • Curriculum implementation begins at sites (pacing varies)
  • Mentors begin working with matched classrooms
  • Partner resources and developmental opportunities begin
FebruaryImplementation (cont'd.)
  • Teachers continue implementing curriculum with students
  • Continue attending PDs or working with mentors
  • Count of total student participants requested from each site
  • # of finalist allotment per site is distributed
  • Students are prototyping
  • Local/class competitions (optional)
MarchImplementation Wrap Up
  • Teachers finish implementing curriculum, attending PDs, and working with mentors
  • Students are creating pitch presentations and preparing for convention
  • Parent Registration for CSIC competition opens
  • Virtual Judging Competition at end of the month
AprilCompetition and Awards
  • CSIC In-person Showcase & Awards Ceremony
  • Program assessment forms due
  • CSIC winners prepare for U.S. Nationals
“I’m a firm believer that kids can only know what they’ve been exposed to and you never know what children are capable of until you expose them to different options. That’s my goal– to inspire someone to tap into their potential and support them to come up with their own ideas, so that when they see a problem, they tackle it.”
-Cynthia Brawner, Teacher at James Wadsworth STEM