Get Inventing! An archives-inspired STEM challenge

“They really enjoyed the challenge, they found they had to think but enjoyed doing something creative!”

-Middle School Teacher

During the last 3 weeks of the 2020 summer term (when schools in England were only open to certain year groups and children of key workers due to the Covid-19 crisis) Newcastle University Library Education Outreach Team worked with a local middle school to try out a remote, archives-inspired STEM challenge.

The children began by exploring Newcastle University’s Amazing Archives website to find out about some of the science-related items in Newcastle University’s Archives and Special Collections. Next, they investigated some of the great inventions and inventors of the past, and their links to some of the items in Newcastle University’s Special Collections and Archives. Finally, the children were challenged to get creative and come up with a fantastic invention idea of their own.

Read on to see the top 10 invention ideas selected by our panel of judges!

The Alarm Curtains

The Alarm Curtains by Jamie

We thought this was a great idea to stop people sleeping in and a much gentler way to be woken up than by your alarm clock going off!

The Sand Remover

The Sand Remover by Cameron

Most of us love going to the beach, but don’t like getting sand stuck between our toes. We thought this was a great practical idea that would solve a common problem.

Solar Panel Plane

Solar Panel Plane by Natalia

A lot of thought has gone into this design for an environmentally friendly aircraft. Look out for more hybrid planes like this in the future.


Dogobot by Chloe

A beautifully presented idea, which we are sure many dog owners would find useful.

Baby Clothes Cleaner

Baby Clothes Cleaner by Chloe

We’d heard of duster slippers before, but had never thought of getting a crawling baby to help with the housework! This idea made us smile.

Colour Changing Water Bottle

Colour Changing Water Bottle by Charlie

It’s so important to keep hydrated. We think this invention would appeal to children and encourage them to drink more water.

Water Measuring Plant Pot

Water Measuring Plant Pot by Leo

Not all of us are green fingered and, for those who aren’t, being reminded by text message when we need to water our plans would be really helpful.

The Heet Mug

The Heet Mug by Jack

Cup of tea gone cold? Mug of hot chocolate too hot too drink? We love this idea to solve everyday problems we’ve all encountered.

The Chamelon

The Chameleon by Hannah

A brilliant idea to make life easier for the inventor’s brother. We absolutely loved this idea and it’s name, which gives you a clue that it involves something changing.

The Motor Bike Rubber

The Motor Bike Rubber by Ross

Another fantastic solution to a real life problem faced by the inventor. This invention will improve visibility when riding a motorcycle in the rain.

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