An Inventor's Paradise

Emma Castro and Michael Gruber
Ben Kaufman, the founder and CEO of Quirky, a NYC based invention company, spoke with our third graders today as a capstone moment of their school year.
"Necessity is the mother of invention," or at least that's what Plato said. Our third graders may agree, especially after spending their spring working on their own inventions and creations in preparation for the 3rd Grade Invention Fair, held on May 29th. From backpack umbrellas to dual pen/pencils for those who need to quickly switch between a permanent and non-permanent option, our students have come up with a variety of ideas that simply skim the surface of what is possible.

On Monday morning, the 3rd Grade had a unique opportunity and very special visitor. Ben Kaufman, founder and CEO of Quirky, a NYC based invention company, came to speak to them about his company and the importance of invention, and to hear about the students' inventions and ideas. The concept behind his company is that anyone with an idea can submit an invention concept to Quirky, and if the community at Quirky collectively votes to pursue the idea, they will create the prototype, mass produce the final product, and market it. The model has been decidedly successful so far, with products like Pivot Power and the Aros air conditioner the company brought in $48 million in revenue in 2014.

Quirky embodies an exciting confluence of RSS 3rd Grade realms of study. As a business that is invention-based, Quirky connects with our studies of invention, innovation, and intellectual property. As a start-up business that has proved to be a successful financial venture, Quirky connects with our studies of business and economy. As a business that is the successful brainchild of founder Ben Kaufman's own invention--the concept and creation of the company itself--Quirky connects with our studies of ingenuity, enterprise, marketing, and entrepreneurialism.

Especially exciting is how Quirky creates an opportunity for any inventor to take her/his ingenuity to "the next level." Theoretically, any 3rd Grade student (with parent permission and assistance) could submit an invention idea to Quirky.
The message of "if you can think of it, you can find a way to do it" is a quintessential element of the RSS ethos, and there is so much of Quirky--from its founding to its employees and inventors--that seems to excitingly and inspirationally embody that spirit and aspiration. We were delighted to have Ben speak to our students and encourage them to continue creating and inventing.

(Many thanks to Michael Gruber, 3rd Grade Teacher, for collaborating on the writing of this article.- Emma S. Castro)

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