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BLOG POST I InventEd Convening 3.27.2024



Jenny Frank, Director of the STEM Learning Ecosystems Community of Practice, and Dr. Tom Okaya, Ecosystem lead for Kenya National STEM Learning Ecosystem

InventEd’s Annual Convening

On March 26, Jenny Frank, director of SLECoP, had the opportunity to attend InventEd’s 2024 Convening in Washington D.C. Over the course of three inspiring days, we joined educators, program leaders, and other stakeholders committed to “Turning Passion into Action” around invention-based learning. A core highlight was getting an immersive experience at the Smithsonian’s Lemelson Center, diving into the stories of pivotal inventions and innovators that have shaped American history. It really exemplified the power of cultivating an inventive mindset from an early age.

At the event, we were excited to deepen our partnership with InventEd, a community of practitioners dedicated to empowering educators and students to develop the “inventive mindset” capable of solving 21st century problems. As the world grows increasingly complex, fostering agile thinkers with diverse perspectives will be crucial for driving innovation across new technologies and industries. InventEd’s approach, powered by the Lemelson Foundation, is working to bridge the gap between traditional education models and the skills needed to succeed in tomorrow’s workforce.

Convening Key Takeaways

The InventEd Convening reinforced the importance of cultivating communities of practice dedicated to transforming education – a core tenet of our SLECoP model. InventEd itself is a community of practice focused on championing the champions of invention education – just as SLECoP aims to empower and elevate the innovative educators and leaders in our own STEM Learning Ecosystems.

Attendees at the convening were reminded that invention education is not just a curriculum, but a mindset and identity to be embraced – what InventEd calls an “inventive identity.” This aligns with SLECoP’s vision of STEM as a foundation for an innovative workforce and enabling lifelong learning identities.

Giving credence to student stories by  showcasing their inventive thinking also was highlighted, as was understanding the role parents and caregivers play in elevating those stories – something our SLECoP communities know is vital for an ecosystem approach. Combining impact data and student narratives when capturing impact is essential when sharing powerful practices of how STEM provides access and opportunities to every community.

But ultimately, the success comes down to the people – the incredible, innovative champions transforming education. This was perhaps the most profound takeaway. We were inspired to deepen our support for these invention education trailblazers propelling our shared STEM missions forward.

InventEd’s Flourishing Ecosystem

A standout aspect of InventEd’s work is the comprehensive ecosystem they have built to support invention education champions at all levels. Their community of practice, supported by Erin Tochen, network director at InventEd, brings together passionate PreK-12 educators, higher education researchers, program providers, advocates and influencers – all united in the mission of cultivating the next generation of innovators and problem-solvers.

“InventEd is a coalition of K-12 educators, nonprofit leaders, researchers, government agencies, funders, and others who are building and supporting the field of invention education. Everyone has an important and unique contribution to building this field, and we connect throughout the year to learn from one another, share resources and progress, collectively identify and solve problems, and increase engagement and understanding of invention education.”

-Erin Tochen, Network Director at InventEd


InventEd offers educators a powerful community of practice to learn tips and explore new invention pedagogy alongside veteran “Invention Educators.” The research group enables academics to define the field’s agenda, publish findings, build cross-institutional partnerships and secure grants. There are also inspiring talks, newsletters and free instructional resources that serve the entire ecosystem.

What makes this ecosystem so robust is InventEd’s recognition that sustainable transformation requires a variety of networked practitioners across the experience spectrum. From classroom teachers to curriculum developers to policy advocates, they provide structured avenues for connection, ideation and collective impact.

From Dreamers to Innovators: SLECoP and InventEd Nurture Inventive Thinkers of Hope

We left this year’s convening extremely impressed by the intentionality behind InventEd’s ecosystem-building efforts. By tapping into this vast network of invention education champions, we can collaborate to better nurture lifelong “inventive” identities and mindsets in all learners. Our partnership presents an exciting opportunity to cross-pollinate these transformative approaches across our respective communities.

InventEd and SLECoP’s community of practice work catalyzing STEM learning ecosystems holds immense potential for building hope and access to opportunities in communities across the nation and around the world. When students are empowered with an inventive skillset and mindset from an early age, new pathways open for them to shape our innovative workforce and prosperity. This holistic ecosystem approach provides the consistent exposure, mentorship and real-world learning experiences that position youth for long-term success. Ultimately, it instills the belief that through STEM, any child can go from dreamers to innovators and creators of their own futures.