In the spring of 2022, the National Festival of Making teamed up with Little Inventors for The Big Reinvention Challenge! Rooted in the theme of sustainability, our challenge looked to use what we already have as a starting point to create something new.
We asked young people aged 7 – 12 years to reinvent things that already exist in the world, giving them a new life. Over 500 submissions of ingenious invention ideas followed, submitted by young people across the UK and beyond.
Three challenge winners were chosen and their ideas were brought to life by professional makers and inventors. Over Zoom or in-person, each maker and child had a chance to meet and chat through the inspiration behind the inventions. Important logistics were discussed and details such as colour and material finalised, before the ideas were made real.
Through a specially designed challenge pack developed with Little Inventors, young people were guided through the process of inventing in a fun and imaginative format. This was accompanied by a guidance pack for teachers with suggestions on how to deliver this within the classroom. Online CPD training for teachers and in-school workshops also took place.
Although the challenge is now closed, if you would like to have a go or use the resources as an aid in the classroom, you can download them here.
I think children’s ideas should be taken seriously because we think differently and have unique ideas and don’t always think the serious way! And also we think quite a lot about climate change because climate change is affecting our generation so we like to mix a little bit of that in and think much differently to everyone else. And every child is different, so you’ll get a lot of different ideas.”
– Isla, age 11, Lancaster
At the National Festival of Making 2022, the winning inventions were shown alongside 100 of the invention drawings submitted to the challenge in The Big Reinvention Challenge Exhibition.
Click below to take you to all of the invention ideas submitted to the challenge, or read on to find out about the journey each challenge winner and maker took to bring their ideas to life.
Muskaan x Chloe Rodham
Muskaan, aged 9 from Blackburn, invented a way to make doing the washing more fun with The Laundry Flyer. During a video call, Muskaan and Chloe chatted through the invention, the sound effects each element might make and Muskaan came up with the idea of controlling the washing machine remotely through an app. Chloe created the model which she then animated through stop motion. If you would like to get a snapshot into the making process, head over to this page on the challenge website and scroll down to read Chloe’s making blog.
Newcastle Upon Tyne, Northumberland, U.K.
I’m an animator and model-maker based in Northumberland. I combine digital animation techniques with more traditional methods like stop motion. I enjoy sharing my skills with others – I’m an Associate Lecturer at Northumbria University and an animation mentor with TICE – introducing children to what it is like working in creative industries.
Isla x Jenni Smith
Isla, age 11 from Lancaster, came up with the ingenious invention of a raincoat for owls – as their feathers are not waterproof, this coat ensures that they can fly and hunt in the rain. Isla was very conscious of using recycled and eco-friendly materials and discussed with Jenni what the most appropriate material could be. Together they decided upon an old raincoat to repurpose, and bamboo, biodegradable dishcloths for little booties. Isla then visited Jenni at her studio and together they made the coat – Isla even designed her own logo for the Twitarain which was stitched into a badge.
Ilkley, West Yorkshire, U.K.
I have been sewing up creations since about the age of eight and have taught quilting and dressmaking for over twelve years in my home of Ilkley. I also teach online from my studio to creative people all around the world together with Quiltfolk magazine. In 2020 I published my book Quilting with Liberty Fabrics (I love Liberty fabrics a lot) and it is always a joy to get involved with community projects.
Evie x The Making Rooms
Evie, age 9, came up with The Ball Pusher after watching her classmates playing basketball during school break times. She decided to reinvent an ordinary hoop into one that could prevent the ball getting stuck in the net. Over Zoom, Evie discussed with Tom, Director of The Making Rooms, the inspiration behind her idea as well as preferred colour choices, fonts and the placement of the button to activate the robotic arm.
The Making Rooms
Blackburn, Lancashire, U.K.
The Making Rooms is a place where creativity, technology and advanced manufacturing come together in a community facility for use by artists, inventors, students, children and just about everyone else to design and make anything from high-tech products and gadgets to toys, artworks, home decorations and accessibility devices.
At the National Festival of Making we always put a big focus on STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Maths) with an area of our festival every year dedicated to increasing access to, and encouraging children to try out, STEAM activities – whether that be workshops with real life engineers or giving young people the opportunity to have a go at 3D printing or bridge building.
We also believe that anyone can be a maker – whether you’re 1 year old or 100 years old, and that some of the best ideas come from the youngest and oldest minds.
We teamed up with Little Inventors because they understand the importance of these things, as well as championing many of the same things as we do – making, imagination, creative problem solving and out-of-the-box thinking. We wanted to create a challenge that would encourage us all to think a little bit more about how we can MAKE the world a better place using our creativity, and so The Big Reinvention Challenge was born!
About Little Inventors
Little Inventors is a creative education organisation that inspires imagination by taking children’s amazing ideas seriously.
Founded by artist and designer, Dominic Wilcox, Little Inventors supports families and educators to bring creativity into the home and the classroom, whilst also inviting professional makers and experts in a wide-range of fields to work with and inspire children. Little Inventors match creative skills development, resilience and confidence building and problem solving with the importance of being a responsible, planet-protecting citizen.
Visit the original challenge site to view all of the fantastic submissions.