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Open Access Engaging Latina Students in the Invention Ecosystem

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Researchers who focus on innovation and invention provide empirical evidence for the benefits of drawing on diverse ideas throughout the invention process; however, the majority of inventors in the United States are White, middle-aged males with advanced science, technology, engineering, or mathematics degrees. By relying primarily on the ideas and inventiveness of homogenous groups, the United States is losing out on diverse and valuable funds of knowledge, which could contribute to groundbreaking innovations to improve peoples' everyday lives and the nation's global competitiveness. Considering that one in four students in the U.S. school system identifies as Latinx, and by 2050, one in three U.S. Americans will identify as Latinx, drawing on the rich cultural knowledge found within Latinx communities is essential for fostering innovation and invention in the diverse U.S. society.
In this conceptual paper, we focus specifically on engaging Latina students in the innovation ecosystem while emphasizing the importance of including the varied perspectives and diverse skill sets of all students. We propose the funds of knowledge theory as a helpful perspective for exploring the ways and reasons for including Latinas (and other diverse students) in inventing. We make the connection between funds of knowledge and invention education (IvE) and argue that one of the most productive ways to engage Latinas and other under-represented students in inventing is to embed IvE within the school day. By including diverse groups in the invention ecosystem, U.S. society and industry can benefit from rich funds of knowledge, which can contribute to solving the complex problems diverse communities face.


Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: College of Community Innovation and Education, University of Central Florida, Orlando, FL, USA

Publication date: December 1, 2022

This article was made available online on November 13, 2022 as a Fast Track article with title: "ENGAGING LATINA STUDENTS IN THE INVENTION ECOSYSTEM".

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  • Technology and Innovation, edited and published by the National Academy of Inventors, is a forum for presenting information encompassing the entire field of applied sciences, with a focus on transformative technology and academic innovation. Regular features of T&I include commentaries contributed by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and in-depth profiles of Fellows of the National Academy of Inventors in every issue.

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