03 December 2007

Invention: Catching 'Em Young

I don't agree with Trevor Baylis on everything (indeed, come to think of it, I don't think I agree with him on most things that I have heard him say) but one of Trev's remarks with which I would heartily agree is that it is never too early to inculcate inventiveness in our schoolchildren. He goes a bit OTT in suggesting copyright notices on school essays but he is on the right lines generally.

Now one chap who is already teaching kids to invent is David Garlovsky from the 'Schools and Homes Energy Education Project', who was our speaker at Sheffield Inventors Club this evening. David has a relation in the USA who has invented and now produces flexible solar panels which can do all sorts of neat things like power the second hands of clocks for a time and drive model soap boxes slowly not to mention catamarans made out of plastic bottles. David's not for profit company gets Sheffield school kids to find uses for those panels. In the process they invent things. And some of those things are quite ingenious.

David and his colleagues who included at least one master from a local school demonstrated his methods on the members of the inventors' club many of whom are post retirement let alone secondary school age. He distributed solar panels, buzzers and other components and made us fit them together. We didn't have any sun but we did have fluorescent lighting which did the trick for everybody except me. I deftly handed my kit over to the library staff on the pretext that I was chairing the meeting. It was really good.

Northern inventors' clubs have had a good week. On Wednesday the Leeds Club entertained Paul White of Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council on Ideas North West (Blackburn inventors' club) wholly owned innovation company. The Blackburn club is holding a special networking event at the Witton City Learning Centre on 12 Dec 2007 which promises to be good. Ideas NW holds its meetings in some pretty hard to find places such as the Saturn Centre (which is nearly as remote and inaccessible as the planet and just the place to dump the local MP) so click here for a map.

There will be a meeting of the Manchester club tomorrow at Central Library at 18:00. Finally, I will be giving a talk to be followed by an IP clinic at Gumption opposite the ice rink in Bradford on Thursday at 12:00. Call Lydia or Anita on 0845 034 4133 if you want to book a place. There's a free lunch if no other incentive.

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