This summer, the United States Patent & Trademark Office hosted a multi-day virtual event for over 150 Scouts BSA to earn the Inventing Merit Badge. In July, youth were welcomed to a virtual learning session by Elizabeth Dougherty, the Eastern Regional Outreach Director of the USPTO and David Gooder, the Commissioner for Trademarks at the USPTO and Eagle Scout.
Keynote presenters included National Inventor’s Hall of Fame Inductee Eric Fossum and multi-patent owner Rory Cooper, both of whom are Eagle Scouts.
Stephen Yanchuk, the Director of Special Projects at the EROO – USPTO, led a session on intellectual property and helped familiarize scouts with resources such as the National Inventor’s Hall of Fame, USPTO’s virtual museum, and Google Patents. A panel of inventors – Dr. Stanley Fricke, Anna Hopen and Mitchell Kempisty – moderated by Tomeka Oubichon of the EROO-USPTO then shared their stories of why they invent. Finally, scouts split into breakout rooms to brainstorm their own inventions. Each breakout was facilitated by a couple USPTO or industry Merit Badge Counselors who shared their expertise.
The nearly 2 dozen merit badge counselors continued to counsel the scouts through a multi-week expedition during which the scouts invented various objects. All of the inventions had to “solve a problem” to meet the Merit Badge requirement as well as the ‘usefulness’ criteria required to earn a patent. Several scouts demonstrated prototypes in a virtual inventing showcase, some video clips of which are here.
In culmination of the event, scouts heard from another inventor, and BSA STEM Scout from Denver, Colorado, Gitanjali Rao. Gitanjali Rao was named the 2020 TIME Kid of the Year and had just recently received a patent for her device, lead contamination detecting device Tethys! You can watch the interview with STEM Scout Inventor Gitanjali on Facebook Live.
Our tremendous thank you goes to the many Inventing Merit Badge Counselors who made this learning session a reality. Over 100 Scouts BSA earned their Inventing Merit Badges with the tutelage of the USPTO’s summer events, and we are so grateful!
Above all, we thank the Eastern Regional Outreach Office of the USPTO for developing the infrastructure to counsel the Inventing Merit Badge and for encouraging youth inventors!