Invention at Play

Inventors’ Stories

Keep Making It Better

Recognize the Unusual

Jump the Tracks
Sailboard
Kevlar
Robotic Ants


Newman Darby

Newman Darby 
Sailboard Inventor




Stephanie Kwolek

Stephanie Kwolek 
Kevlar Inventor




James McLurken

James McLurkin 
Robotic Ants Inventor




“My hobby is building and inventing things. I’m still building, and I will keep on building.”

Inventors are people who retain and foster the curiosity and sense of exploration through which all of us first learned about our world. While some inventors learn their craft in academic settings, many develop their expertise through continual experimentation with their tools and materials.




“All sorts of things can happen when you’re open to new ideas and playing around with things.”

Kwolek’s ability to recognize possibilities where others did not is a quality she shares with many inventors. This tendency to see non-obvious connections and relationships often leads inventors to the key insight that is the basis for their invention.




“We can use biology as a lever to pry open the secrets of intelligence. We could then take robots and possibly change things about biology.”

Many inventors retain their childhood spirit of improvisation, combining it with expertise in one or multiple fields. These inventors step over the boundaries of one field to adopt the tools or strategies of another.



see more inventors


see more inventors


see more inventors







Borrow From Nature

Find Opportunities In Obstacles

Many Heads Are Better Than One
Phone
Surgical Robot
Innovative Design Team


A. Graham Bell

Alexander G. Bell 
Telephone Inventor




Akhil Madhani

Akhil Madhani 
Surgical Robot Inventor




IDEO

IDEO 
Innovative Design Team




“We are all too much inclined to walk through life with our eyes shut. There are things all around us, and right at our very feet, that we have never seen; because we have never really looked.”

Everyday natural phenomena can inspire invention or serve as a focus for daydreaming. Inventors demonstrate the ability to take what they see in nature and make imaginative and unlikely connections.




“Invention is a lot more incremental than people like to make it sound. In order to have good ideas, inventors have a lot of bad ideas too.”

Invention is an activity that is full of risk, involving failure as much as success. Inventors meet obstacles or difficulties in their life or work and decide to invent their way to a solution.




“I think playing is critical for coming up with new ideas. It’s something we try to encourage here at the office. The play state is inherently creative.”

Teams share and improve ideas, building on their members’ skills and providing more opportunities for problem solving. Being part of a team allows each member to engage in interdisciplinary, simultaneous innovation.



see more inventors


see more inventors


see more inventors








skip navigation

Inventor's Sketchbook


Draw Here

Invention often begins with doodling. Use the area above to sketch your ideas.

sketch more 





Alexander G. Bell’s Sketch

Inventor sketch
See sketches of the first telephone.

view sketch 




National Museum of American History, Behring Center Invention Playhouse Inventors’ Stories Does play Matter? Exhibit Info Resources Contact Us Site Map Site Credits Lemelson Center