The Smithsonian Invention Kits permit students to understand and re-create working inventions. The goal for the students is not to create an exact physical replica, but to reinterpret and reinvent the device using modern manufacturing technology. The ultimate objective is to inspire and inform a new generation of designers, and to underscore the power of new ideas rooted in fundamental principles of science and engineering.

An invention kit explores the way that the United States became the nation that it is today. It tells this story through the lens of inventions that changed the world – such as the electric motor, the telegraph, the telephone, the electric light, the electrical power grid, and radio. Each of these innovations were developed by American inventors throughout the 19th and early 20th century.