Thursday, August 17, 2017
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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Is the convention open to the public?

Yes, the public may attend the opening and closing ceremonies, and view the inventions during the lunch break, typically between 12:00 PM and 1:30 PM. There is no admission charge.

In addition, there are self-guided UConn Campus Tours, exhibits of CIC's current class of Next Step Inventors, the various Departments of the School of Engineering, the UConn Co-op Bookstore, and interesting groups and associations. Visit the famous UConn Dairy Bar, where ice cream is made on-site. The animal "barns" are usually open during the day at departmental discretion (check Uconn website for current information.)

Is there a national convention after the state one?

The CIC is proud to announce its affiliation with The STEMIE Coalition, which elevates youth invention and entrepreneurship education to a core part of K-12 education. In May 2016, the CIC will take part in the STEMIE Coalition's first ever National Invention Convention to be held at the US Patent and Trademark Office in Washington, DC. and is planning to send a group of CIC Finalists to participate in this historic event. These deserving students will join their peers from across the US in celebration of their accomplishments and compete for national awards. CIC needs to raise $700 per student to cover costs for the trip and hotel. Won't you help us by visiting our GoFundMe page and donating any amount?  Every bit helps!  Thank you!! 

Can a student register for the convention as an individual?

No, each student who participates in the convention has been vetted and selected at their school or program level.  As such, CIC recognizes that some students are homeschooled or cannot otherwise participate in their school's CIC program because it's either not offered at all or not open to them at their grade level.  CIC encourages all K-8 students to "be an inventor once, better twice", and so has created the "Independent Study Student Program" with its own local invention convention.  This program is free to all qualified students. More information, guidance and advice is on our site under "Students and Their Families-Independent Study Students." 

Can the convention be canceled due to inclement weather?

No, the convention will definitely take place as scheduled.

How many awards are given out?

Regional Events: Students are separated into judging circles of between 8 and 10. From each circle, judges select four students to move on to the State Finals.

State Finals: Students are separated into judging circles of 9. From each circle, judges select 2 inventors for recognition. These inventors receive the "Recognized Inventor Award" from the CIC. The CIC will present about 140 of these awards. In addition, some organizations present Sponsored Awards for inventions in particular subject areas or themes. For example, the CT Fire Marshal's Association presents awards for inventions related to fire prevention. The number of Sponsor Awards varies annually, usually between 75 and 100.  For a list of Sponsor Awards, click here.

Does the state of CT run the CIC?

The CIC is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit education organization, run by a small staff and an all-volunteer Board of Directors. It is supported primarily from generous corporate sponsors, foundation grants, and individual donors. In 2008, the CIC received a one-time grant of $150,000 from then Speaker of the House Jim Amann's office, the CT General Assembly, and the Office of Policy and Management. In subsequent years, the CIC has received small allocations from the Department of Economic Development and Community Development in recognition of CIC's efforts to prepare and educate CT students for a 21st Century Workforce.  In 2013, the CIC received a sizeable, multi-year grant from Eversource to create a standards-based set of curricular resources to support teaching invention, innovation and entrepreneurship in 200 CT K-8 schools.  As of 2016, the CIC program was implemented in 247 K-8 schools and programs serving nearly 17,000 students. If you wish to support us, please email Helen Charov, Executive Director at  

How do I get my school to participate?

The CIC is prepared to help parents, teachers, STEM Coordinators, school and district administrators deploy the CIC program to one or multiple elementary and middle school grade levels.  Every Fall, teachers are invited to participate in CIC Professional Development sessions which introduces the basics of a CIC program and its curricular resources. Through the year, teachers can request additional mentorship, support, and guidance from CIC's Outreach Director. Contact a teacher or school administrator and tell him/her about the CIC. This web site should provide all the needed information. For more information or to set up a meeting about joining the CIC, contact CIC Outreach Director

How is the CIC different from a science fair?

A science fair focuses on experimentation and scientific research, usually deemed worthy for advanced study and possible future application, while the CIC curriculum is about problem-solving, solution-based activities, learning how things work or don't through experimentation, and various critical skills development to solve real-life problems resulting in a working invention. The Connecticut Science and Engineering Fair is a very worthy cause and both the CIC and CSEF work together at times to promote activities and ventures that promote student's academic excellence. As a result the CIC suggests having students participate in both the CIS and the CSEF.

The Connecticut Invention Convention itself is intended to provide a realistic experience with encouragement and comment by teams of professionals (Engineers, Patent Attorneys, Academics, Scientists and other business professionals) evaluating each invention, and peer interaction. To see a picture, click here.

If a student is sick or has another commitment, can he drop off his invention at the convention?

No, students must be present during judging, as they must present their inventions and answer questions from their peers and judges.

I want to patent my invention. How do I do it?

Patenting an invention takes time - a few years is typical - and money. Plus, having a patent doesn't mean that your invention will bring you riches, since the granting of a patent is not based on whether an invention will be successful in the market. If a student wishes to provide a level of protection, one can apply for a provisional patent. Refer to the US Patent Office for more detail.

ONE YEAR RULE: Generally speaking, an inventor has ONE YEAR within which he or she may apply for a patent, otherwise the invention may go into Public Domain use, where anyone can use the idea. The one year clock starts ticking when the invention is first disclosed, used, or displayed publicly or published in a publicly available document such as a newspaper, television, or magazine. For students, this time clock starts when you have your local invention competition. The one year time clock may also start to click, when an inventor sells the invention or offers to sell the invention to another party.

If you feel your invention is patentable, or valuable, consult an attorney for advice, and visit the website to look at options to file what is known as a Provisional Patent. This is one of the least expensive routes to protection.

For information about patents, click here to go to our Links page.

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