Creative Problem Solving and Inventing: A Proven Approach for STEM Education

10am - 4pm

The Lemelson-MIT Program, located within the School of Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), has been helping K-12 teachers and students across the U.S. learn how to invent technological solutions to real world problems for fifteen years. Recent studies confirm the positive impact our programs have on the development of creative and inventive mindsets that are critical to young people’s ability to thrive in today’s technologically driven, rapidly changing world.

We are now sharing what we have learned with greater numbers of educators and administrators across the U.S. and forming a community of support. Please join us at this summer’s virtual professional development session that will be held entirely online, over the course of three days. There will be a combination of synchronous group activities online and asynchronous activities to be completed individually, offline. 

Who should attend: Educators of all grade levels, after school professionals, administrators, community college faculty, or other educators who want to enrich students' educational experiences – especially STEM experiences - through inventing solutions to real-world problems. Educators from the same school district are encouraged to attend. This will help support the pathway for inventing in your district.

What will you learn: The workshop will develop educators’ and administrators' capacity to help kids learn to think and act as inventors. The workshop includes strategies for the effective use of JV InvenTeam activity guides made available free of charge on our website here.

Why participate with us: The Lemelson-MIT Program has helped train 160 educators who reached over 4,000 students last year through invention education trainings. Case studies and research publications offer evidence that our approach to invention education helps students develop confidence in their ability to engage in STEM and pursue STEM college and career pathways, even if they have had little exposure in the past to STEM. Our evidence-based model also transforms educators’ approach to teaching and facilitating student learning, and helps schools and districts make connections to STEM professionals in their communities and other community supporters. You can read our case studies and published research to learn more.

Cost: Registration is $600 per participant. Space is limited to 20 educators per grade band. We will maintain a waitlist once the registration limit is reached.

Contact: Email if you have any questions. 

2020 Summer Professional Development

Presenters and Guest Speakers


Workshop sessions will be taught and facilitated by the Lemelson-MIT Program staff and former InvenTeam educators and special guest speakers.

Helen Zhang
Helen Zhang, PhD
Professional Development Coordinator, Lemelson-MIT

Development Coordinator, has over 15 years of experience in designing and implementing STEM activities in formal and informal settings. She develops online webinars, addressing key issues related to invention education, conducts workshops to engage teachers in integrating invention projects in their classrooms, and provides practical suggestions to invention educators on how to better support young inventors.

Leigh Estabrooks
Leigh Estabrooks, EdD
Invention Education Officer, Lemelson-MIT

Leigh Estabrooks joined the Lemelson-MIT Program in 2006 to manage the day-to-day operations of the InvenTeams® national grants initiative. She has been the invention education officer since 2008, overseeing all K-12 invention education initiatives. Estabrooks has been instrumental in the development and introduction of several new initiatives, including Junior Varsity InvenTeams™ and the 2010 launch of the Inventing Merit Badge, in partnership with the Boy Scouts of America. She has co-authored multiple research studies on invention education. She holds a master’s degree in business management from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and a doctoral degree in educational leadership from Northeastern University.

Tony Perry
Tony Perry
Invention Education Coordinator, Lemelson-MIT

As the Invention Education Coordinator at Lemelson-MIT, Tony Perry supports teams of high school students, teachers, and mentors from around the country as they work through the invention process from problem identification to building a working prototype during their InvenTeam grant year. Prior to joining the Lemelson-MIT Program, Tony taught high school science in Chicago and worked in museum education. He received his master’s degree in science education from Northwestern University and bachelor’s degree in astronomy-physics from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. In addition to his role at Lemelson-MIT, Tony is a PhD student at Texas Tech University, concentrating in curriculum and instruction.

Doug Scott
Doug Scott
Lemelson-MIT Fellow, Hopkinton High School Teacher

Doug Scott was an educator on the Natick High School InvenTeam in 2013. He is now an engineering and information technology teacher at Hopkinton High School in Massachusetts. He was a business undergraduate student at Framingham State University, but was always a lifelong inventor at heart. Doug’s 12-year teaching career sprung from his hockey coaching experiences, which have been instrumental in helping him motivate students through the inventing processes. Doug accompanied two student representatives from the Natick High School InvenTeam to the fourth White House Science Fair in May 2014, and their invention was awarded U.S. Patent 20,140,360,420 in January 2017. Doug was awarded the 2014 Massachusetts STEM Teacher of the Year during a state-wide ceremony on October 22, 2014. Raytheon Corporation and the Hall at Patriot Place presented the award.

Evelyn Gómez
Evelyn Gómez
Invention Education Coordinator, Lemelson-MIT

Evelyn Gómez has worked in the education field for over 10 years, first as a math and science teacher for K-15 students, and later as the executive director for DIY Girls, a nonprofit aimed at providing hands-on STEM education and mentorship to girls in her hometown of Pacoima, California. With training as both an engineer and an educator, she is able to leverage her experiences and technical skills to create innovative experiences for students and inspire the next generation of engineers and scientists. Evelyn first came to the Lemelson-MIT program in 2016 as an InvenTeam educator for the DIY Girls, a group of 12 girls who invented a solar-powered tent for unhoused individuals in Los Angeles. Evelyn has earned bachelor's and master's degrees in aerospace engineering from MIT and UCLA, respectively, as well as a master’s in education from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

Pascha Griffiths
Pascha Griffiths, PhD
Invention Education Coordinator, Lemelson-MIT

Pascha has worked in the education field for over 20 years. She has taught a variety of subjects to a range of students from nursery school to adult learners. Pascha particularly relishes investing in educators because in her subjective experience, educators make enthusiastic learners who then multiply their learning by investing in their students. Since 2013, Pascha has been coaching pre-service science teachers as an Advisor and Program Supervisor primarily through Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education, but also through Lesley University’s Teacher Education Program, and College of the Atlantic’s Teacher Certification Program. Pascha holds a master’s degree in communication from Boston University, a master’s in education from Harvard University, and a PhD in educational leadership from Lesley University, where she teaches as an adjunct faculty.

Guest Speakers

Workshop sessions will be taught and facilitated by the Lemelson-MIT Program staff and former InvenTeam educators and special guest speakers.

Carlos Osorio
Carlos Osorio, PhD
Co-Founder and Partner, Yuken

Carlos Osorio is co-founder and partner of Yuken, the first impact research lab in Latin America that partners with people and organizations all over the world to create positive and lasting change for their innovation, learning and design challenges. His work focuses on innovation processes and innovation in complex socio-technical systems. He has experience in the biotech, finance, telecom, energy, natural resources and utility sectors. He holds a PhD in technology, management and policy from MIT.

María Renard
María Renard
Co-Founder and Partner, Yuken

Maria Renard is co-founder and partner of Yuken Impact Research Lab, with expertise in developing and mobilizing innovation and creativity skills in children and adults, learning in the innovative design process, human-centered design solutions and strategic visual communication for academic settings. She leads the design and learning teams at Yuken. She has been a professor of design for more than fifteen years, and founding director of the School of Design at Univ. Gabriela Mistral. She is a designer from PUC and holds a master’s degree in innovation from UAI. 

Pavithra Lakshminarayan
Pavithra Lakshminarayan
Founder, Mindbytes

Pavithra Lakshminarayan founded Mindbytes through which she creates and provides year-round programs that address core skills and create “Young Geniuses.” She has over 22 years of work experience in information technology and education, focusing on learning design, content creation, training and operations. She has been an advisor for education and research-based projects around strategic planning, curriculum design, course development, training and integration. She is on the leadership team for the South Jersey STEM Innovation Partnership network and chairs an early childhood learning priority group at the New Jersey STEM Pathways Network. She holds an M.B.A in information technology & finance.

Brenda Payne
Brenda Payne
Executive Director, California Invention Convention

Brenda began her career as an educator in Northern California where she introduced invention education to students, utilizing an engineering curriculum that she helped develop for her district.  Continuing on as a principal at several schools in Northern and Central California and a superintendent in a small district in Santa Cruz County, she began the California Invention Convention (CAIC), a program that today serves thousands of students, as an annual celebration of K-12 inventors and entrepreneurs from across the state. The event provides a live, in-person opportunity for youth inventors and entrepreneurs in grades K-12 to display their critical thinking skills through inventing, innovating, and entrepreneurial activities. Brenda has provided the professional development for the CAIC curriculum that teachers use in their classrooms and after school programs.


Attendees will have the opportunity to learn how inventing can be used to engage youth and support the integration of STEM in the following grade bands.


Grade Band Professional Learning Description
PK-3 and 3-5 The early years are foundational to students’ development. Presenters will share playful approaches to developing students’ ability to understand others’ needs, communications skills, computational thinking and computer science skills and ways of designing and building – all through projects that are age appropriate and designed for youth from diverse backgrounds.
6-10 The middle grades are ideal times to continue to develop a range of capabilities needed to invent such as hands on skills and design thinking emphasized in LMIT’s free JV InvenTeams curriculum. Computational thinking and computer science add-ons support this essential area for development. These years are also the time to help students learn how to think about solutions that are both useful and unique.
9-14 High school students are capable of finding problems to solve in their local communities and building useful and unique prototypes of those solutions. Prior learning opportunities can be built upon at this age to support the design and development of technological solutions that are not obvious to one skilled in the art – i.e. patentable! Learn how eight of the Lemelson-MIT Program’s grant-funded InvenTeams have secured patents for their work.


Day 1 Online: 

  • Orientation to Invention Education
  • Overview of the work pertaining to attendees’ grade band

Day 2 Online:

  • Exploration of existing teaching resources and plan new invention activities for the year ahead

Day 3 Online:

  • Attendees share existing resources for each grade band and work plans for the 2020-2021 school year.
  • Small group meetings with staff and speakers to address individual or site needs.