A Note from the Regional Inventors Fair Director

To build a better future, it’s important we encourage kids to explore their passions, pursue their dreams, and recognize their worth. (Connecticut Invention)

There is no denying it. Teachers are overwhelmed with ever changing requirements. To take on an additional task is unreasonable, at least until you hear from one of your own. “It’s creativity and a different way of learning,” Gateway teacher Marsha Malamut said. The inventions make students use math, science, creative thinking, financial and marketing planning and other skills. “It incorporates every skill a teacher could possibly want, in a free-form way.” Retired now, she is but one of many of your colleagues who enroll year after year.

There is a learning curve. You will find the program aligns well with Florida State Standards while providing valuable career skill sets and life affirming applications. Edison Fairs will continually be addressing this as an educational nonprofit. We ask for your patience as funds are generated to provide additional resources and incentives. Currently extensive K-12 lesson plans, workshops, and educational insight are within your reach at https://inhub.thehenryford.org/icw/home.

For those of you with experience, thank you for enabling students to participate. In past years, the students advancing from regional to national competitions have excelled. This is very gratifying but does not reveal the greatest aspirations of the organization: to reach students from all backgrounds and all educational levels regardless of gender, race, creed or color and inclusive of special needs.

A major benefit of the invention process is discovering what motivates underperforming students. Dr. Temple Grandin, an autistic college professor, animal behaviorist, and author of Visual Thinking, shares the importance of understanding that people think in different ways across a spectrum.

Current curricula favor verbal, linear thinkers (‘gifted’ students). Children who underperform right from the start may well be visual learners, with emphasis on thinking in pictures and/or patterns, not words. Art and invention provide a means of expression to elevate their interest. Once engaged, confidence builds, a joy for learning grows, and a quest for knowledge thrives.

Learning how to channel a student’s creativity with critical thinking and problems solving skills will improve the odds of success. Let’s face it, having purpose in life makes getting up each and every day more fulfilling. Drawing upon the multiple disciplines taught in primary and secondary education results in convergence education potentiating social capital and economic mobility.

Additional resources will be offered as funds become available. Experienced Inventors Fair teachers are encouraged to mentor colleagues just getting started.
In past invention fairs foods, liquids, plants and soils were common in on-site displays. Not anymore! Use photos or videos. Health hazard risks associated with microorganisms, potential allergens, or toxic chemicals eliminates any on-site display.


Honesty, integrity, and trustworthiness are cornerstones of the Edison Fairs
Best practices for student use of AI are a worthy goal of the Edison Fairs.

Background: Walt Disney is famous for saying “If we can dream it, we can do it.” Artificial Intelligence puts a new spin on it, “If you ask AI, it can do it.” Well, close enough to challenge STEAMIE today and tomorrow. Gaining experience in using AI efficiently and effectively is a worthy goal of Edison Fairs participants.
AI has enormous potential to influence every aspect of our lives. This applies to the scientific method and invention process. AI has a diverse range of potential responses including ‘hallucinations’, the term used for erroneous information. Validation of the accuracy of AI information is at the heart of this paradigm change.

Acknowledging AI assistance is not so different than acknowledging help from parents, teachers, mentors, and friends. Using AI is optional. AI is a privilege that comes with responsibilities no matter your age! An Edison Fairs participant is obligated to follow the guidelines if he/she chooses to use it.
Deceptive or fraudulent uses of AI in violation of the guidelines will be grounds for rejection. (e.g.) Presenting AI generated information as personally generated or without understanding.

The current use of AI (not limited to large language models, deep learning, or generative AI programs) will be subject to the following requirements until revised. August 2023


AI Prompt – Any form of text, question, information or coding that communicates to AI what response a person is looking for. How the prompt is phrased can lead to varying responses, relevant and irrelevant. 

AI Assisted – AI used to revise spelling, grammar and presentation of the student’s information.

AI Generated – Information generated based on human prompts. AI programs predict new probabilities from known data at extraordinary speeds.  Predictions must be validated before being accepted as evidence based. 


  • sharing the date(s), AI programs and key prompts.   
  • proving AI generated information is relevant and evidence based by citing peer reviewed articles and validated references.
  • personally generated, not AI generated, conclusions. For Science and Inventors Fair, a student’s personal findings and original thinking is critical in the application of the scientific method and/or invention process. AI should only play a supportive role.
  • eliminating irrelevant prompts.  Vast quantities of information can be acquired by applying AI.      Share only validated, relevant information helping to shape the student’s personal insights or findings. If twenty prompts are used but only two are relevant, report only those two!


AI Tracking Form (see link) – A record of relevant AI prompts. 

The Launching Pad

The program officially launches following the In Service presentation generally held in late August/early September. If you do not receive notification by August 25th, please contact inventors@edisonfairs.org .
The actual date of your program’s launch is up to you. Nationals recommend a minimum of six (6) weeks.

“It is important to recognize that the entire story of civilization is based on invention. Invention is historically one of the strongest driving forces in human affairs. If children can comprehend invention, they can better understand the past and the present and predict the future more reliably.” Edward Schlesingers, Jr.

Logbook/ Workbook vs Personalized Logbook

Either form can be submitted for judging. Details are shared on the Students Resource page and in the Education Guide. For convenience, a K-3 and 4 -12 Logbook can be downloaded as a hardcopy or filled in digitally. Whatever logbook is selected, it should fulfill all four elements of the Inventors Fair Rubric: Invention Process; Invention Impact; Invention Communications; and for students interested in advancing beyond Regionals, Becoming an Entrepreneur.

The Inventors Fair Educational Guide (see link) provides a historical review of U.S. Patent Law leading up to current logbook practices. Additionally, it offers helpful guidelines and resources to complete the rubric.

Weaving invention history into the curriculum helps a student realize it only takes one person to make a big impact. Encourage students throughout the day with examples of how inventions played a role in the subjects being taught. The internet is rich in examples and lessons plans. Here are just a few sources: Wikipedia – Timeline of Historic Inventions; cademuseum.org (the inspiring story of Gatorade); pbs.org – Invention Education: 27 lessons; www.uspto.gov/kids ;
https://inhub.thehenryford.org/icw – grade level lessons available for Florida Gulf Coast Invention affiliates.

Project Timeline (Link)
The template is helpful to keep students on track. Page numbers do not correlate to revised logbooks.

School programs will culminate with a school invention fair. Once the fair is over, students advancing to Regional Fair may continue to work on their entries until the deadline for submission of Virtual Paperwork and Video Presentations. The deadline for working on projects entered in the Regional Fair would be the day of On Site Setup.

Facilitating School Participation

Student Registration and Participant Folders

  • Only students advancing to Regional Inventors Fair will register on zFairs. (fl-rif.zfairs.com)
  • Going forward, teachers will use their preference for creating student folders at the school level. 
    • Google Classroom has been the go to program in the past but the choice is open.
    • If virtual folders are not used, this would eliminate any advanced judging for a limited number of special category awards.  The majority of awards would still be selected at the On Site Fair.   
  • Alternative program

Pros and Cons of Physical Displays at the School Level. It’s your choice. .
Students advancing to an onsite Regional Fair will require a physical display board.
Colleagues have stated physical displays have proven valuable in promoting a variety of skills sets.
School supply expenses can be reduced by using virtual displays for all participating students.
The virtual display serves as an effective template for the physical display.

REGIONAL PROGRAM TIMELINE (Indepth) with Contingency Plans

An Overview: Who, What, When, Where, and Why

August – October

All students K-12 are welcome to participate. In addition to the value of experiencing the invention process: 

  • Students are awarded based of their individual or team merit. 
  • Scholarships guidelines are set forth by the donors. 
  • University and college donors may require recipients to have U.S. citizenship. 

Affiliate Registration Process

  • Affiliation fees
    • $150 for each participating school division: Elementary(K-5), Middle(6-8), High(9-12) 
    • Each fair has separate affiliation fees  (Science Fair, Inventors Fair, and if available, Elem. Expo)
    • Each affiliation covers one or more grades/classes within each division.
    • No individual teacher affiliation fees.
    • $ 20 per student registering for regional fairs. Clarification: Team projects: $20 per team member.
  • Payment Options for Affiliation Fees -Three Options:
    • Directly through zFairs payment module using a credit card.
    • A direct debit or transfer to the Edison Fairs account at FineMark Bank.
      • Routing #:  067016231
      • Acct #:  5935901474
    • By check mailed to Edison Fairs, PO Box 1399, 20791 Three Oaks Pwky, Estero, FL 33928
  • Go to fl-rif.zfairs.com to register for the Edison Regional (a.k.a. Florida Gulf Coast) Inventors Fair.
  1. Register as a teacher
  2. Every teacher with participating students needs to register.
  3. The previous year’s list of participating schools has been retained. 
    • To add additional schools, make sure to advance to the second page of your teacher’s registration and follow the prompt. 
  4. Include the school name with each teacher registration. (Complete the second page as well.)
    • This will enable access to your regionally enrolled student files
  • If you cannot access your student files, go back and fill in the 2nd page of teacher registration!

Virtual School, Home school and Low Enrollment K-12 Educational Facility Affiliation

  • Decide on one of two options then follow the steps above:
  1. Individual participants arrange to enter a school fair to qualify for Regional Fair.
  2. Hold a prearranged/sponsored fair with a minimum of 15 participants.
  • The number of students advancing will be determined by the total participation number.
  • Register the name of the associated organization or program as the school. Include contact information.
  • Questions? Contact inventors@edisonfairs.org

Special Needs Students and Any Students Requiring Additional Assistance

  • All students are encouraged to participate. Regional requirements are similar for all participants.
    • Edison Fairs requires advanced notice to make appropriate accommodations.
    • Last minute requests may not provide adequate preparation time. 
  • Contact inventors@edisonfairs.org  well in advance of the Virtual or On Site Fair.

October – January 

School and Teacher Inventors Fair Registration Deadline: October 31st

Report School Division total participation numbers to receive your Regional Fair allotment number.

  • Each school will be entitled to a minimum of six (6) and maximum of sixteen (16) allotments
    • Six (6) allotments for the first fifteen (15) participants. If less than 15 students are participating, consider allowing virtual, home schooled or low enrollment participants to participate. See contact below.
  • One allotment for each additional group of up to fifteen (15) participants.


When will your school fair(s) be held?

    • Pick a date and time, and outline a timeline for students to complete their projects. Most invention projects will take a MINIMUM of six weeks to enter a fair.  (Project Timeline template -see link- Page numbers may vary with updates.)
    • Coordinate the dates of your school fair to allow students the opportunity to advance to the Regional Fair.
    • Determine if your fair will be judged on-site or virtually. Virtual judging requires additional coordinating and supervising.
    • Many schools have hosted their fairs in their media centers or multipurpose rooms. (See Educational Guide) 
  • Concerns for visitors in school has led to optional judging methods.  (See next section)
  • Regional participants may continue to pursue any and all aspects of paperwork, display and video files up to the regional fair registration deadline date.  Updated files can replace original files. Load .pdf paperwork files only

Who will serve as school fair judges? Determine feasibility of having judges on site, if allowed.

  • Inventor Fair Students can participate in judging their peers. Judging Circles can be created with approximately six projects. Students in the circle present to each other and select the winner(s). Ideally, one or more adult moderators guide the discussions. Teachers or school administrators have served in this role.
  • Optionally, recruit the help of your PTO. Start by asking for volunteers within your school community. Local science organizations, clubs, and businesses may also be helpful if scheduled appropriately. Estimate 10 minutes per judging. 
  • Following judging results, a teacher may use discretion and include a deserving student overlooked by peers/judges.


Regional Student Registration Guidelines 

  • A student who chooses not to compete in the Virtual Fair 
  • zFairs student registration is still required 
      • no  virtual files or images need to be loaded onto zFairs
      • the student is ineligible for awards if determined by virtual judging
    • On-Site Fair: The student must provide a hardcopy of logbook plus display board and prototype (model) to be eligible for judging and qualifying for any awards.
  • General Planning Guide :On-Site Regional Venue availability varies year to year 
  • January Venue Date – Regional student zFairs registration deadline January 7th.  
    • If a hybrid regional fair is announced, deadline December 24th.
    • Virtual judging of logbook and video begins January 2nd  
  • February Venue Date – Regional student zFairs registration deadline January 15th.
    • If a hybrid regional fair is announced, deadline January 7th
    • Virtual judging of logbook and video begins January 8th 
  • A second registration is required the day of setup for the Fair. See On-Site Fair below.
  • Virtual Fair only if circumstances necessitate this adjustment – February Venue Date would apply.

January – February

      Official pre-event student submission deadlines (TBD): See General Planning Guide above. 

  • Paperwork files must be submitted as .pdf files
  • Videos may be converted using the zFair video prompt. 
    • YouTube Videos require ‘permission to view by anyone with the link’.


Event Alternatives: On Site, Hybrid Fair, or Virtual 

  • On-Site Fair is the first choice. Greater participation numbers will favor the addition of virtual components.   
  • Hybrid Events make the most of both Live and Virtual Events. Logbooks & Videos can be reviewed in advance. 
  • Virtual Only Fair would occur due to loss of venue, health/weather advisories or other heightened risks.


On Site Fair

Friday: Setup and Registration 

    • Volunteers may register in advance at fl-rif.zfairs.com for specific tasks (Teachers welcomed.)
    • Friday morning setup for both Fairs
      • Exhibit floor and tables, registration tables, and judges review sections 
      • Accommodations for Saturday Continental Breakfast and Lunch 
      • Signage 
    • Friday afternoon 
      • Security protocols requiring inspection of belongings
        • Plan ahead to avoid delays
        • Use airport inspection guidelines to prepare.
        • Clear, see through bags will be helpful  
      • Student Registration and exhibit space assignments
  • Project setup and approval
    • SRC Review for Science projects needing final approval
    • Students should take valuables home and return with them the following morning.
      • Saturday: Plan for inspection protocols to be repeated.


Saturday: Judging Sessions

    • Alert: Teachers may serve as Inventor Fair Regional Judges with the following stipulations:
      • You may not judge in the Division you teach in.
      • Do not judge a student you have previously taught or know on a personal basis.
      • Benefits of judging include gaining firsthand experience and awareness of student achievement.
      • If favoritism is evident in judging, you will lose this privilege.
    • Judges Review and Assignments 7:15 – 8:15 A.M.
  • Grade/Division Sessions 
  • Timelines will be confirmed at registration
      • It is recommended students are onsite 30 minutes ahead of session.
      • Anticipated inventors judging schedule:   8:15 – 11:45 A.M
        • 8:15 – 9:00 Co-registered students to permit their return to the Science Fair Exhibits 
  • 8:30 – 9:30      K- 3rd Grades
  • 9:15 – 10:00   4th Grade
  • 9:45 – 10:30   5th Grade
  • 10:15 – 11:00 6th – 8th 
  • 10:45 – 11:45 9th – 12th 
      • Students are released once judged. 
        • K – 5th students are escorted to a Parent Pickup Area 
          • Parents should be at parent pickup during the judging period! 
          • A student may finish within 15 minutes or up to 45 minutes after entering.  
        • 6th – 12th students make arrangements to meet outside the building’s front entrance
    • The number of On-Site judges will ultimately determine how students are judged.
      • Flexibility and fairness are paramount in the judging process. 
      • Contingency plans for lower than expected turnout of On-Site Judges
        • First choice: One group of three judges will interview a student. 
        • Second choice: Judging circles with one or more judges and a group of students share in the judging process. This is the first choice for a number of affiliate fairs. One or more score sheets.
        • Third choice: Severe shortage of judges. Two tiered judging: 1st Virtual,  2nd On-Site interviews
          • A percentage of higher scoring virtually judged students move on to 2nd Tier interviews.
            • 2nd Tier On-Site judging for K- 12 Grade Awards.   
          • All projects will remain eligible for Special Awards.
    • Public Viewing: 1:30 – 3:30 PM
      • Advisory:  Young participants require parenteral supervision..
    • Tallying Scores with zFairs algorithms will lead to faster turnaround times for selecting grade winners.
      • All tallying will still have human oversight
      • Algorithms and human insight together raise the bar for fairness in the selection process 
    • Selection of Special Category Awards must meet donor guidelines


    Awards Program February

    • Z Fairs algorithmic scoring options will improve the timeline for award presentations. 
    • The 2024 Fair will be the first time to test onsite digital scoring.  A written score card will back up the process.  Paper reduction and speed of tallying are two beneficial reasons for the going digital.  
    • Two Categories of Awards:
      • General Awards based of judges scores
      • Special Awards designated by donor specific guidelines 


    Raytheon National Invention Convention

     Henry Ford Museum, Dearborn, MI,  Normally scheduled for early June


    Edison Fairs is a Community Partner with FGCU’s Service Learning and Civic Engagement.

    The Department of Experiential Learning & Career Development

    • Office of Internships & Cooperative Programs
    • Office of Career Development Services
    • Offices of Service-Learning & Civic Engagement

    Edison Fairs will be engaging willing students to assist event staffing as judges and general volunteers. The potential for Education, Engineer, Entrepreneur, Math, Science, Technology, Arts and other majors to share in educational mentorship opportunities is limited only by inaction.  

    If you would like to share your thoughts about Service Learning opportunities for creative thinking programs – new product development (engineering) – marketing (graphics) plus other mentoring opportunities, please share your thoughts.  Edison Fairs will embark on developing and coordinating new resources to engage K-12 students. It will take time, commitment and resources. You are welcome to be part of the creative planning process. It’s happening around the nation and in Southwest Florida.  

    Contact inventors@edisonfairs.org and share your ideas.

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