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17th Annual Young Inventor Challenge

NEW!!! 2023 Summer Camp Programs!
New Cool Partnerships with ASTRA and Happy Camper Live!

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Happy Camper Live (HCL),  American Specialty Toy Retailing Association  (ASTRA) and People of Play (POP) are delighted to announce the inaugural Young Inventors Challenge, Summer Camp Edition! Camps and retail toy stores across the country will join in this fun STEM-based challenge, where participants design an original toy or game.


In August and September, camps will submit one toy or game to the judges in each of the two categories (6-12 year olds and 13-18 year olds). Winners receive an amazing Game Tower or a Gift Card, and a spot in the national competition in November.


Registration is over for camps and invention is in process for those campers! . Retail stores can still register to join the challenge before August 1st and submit their toy or game invention by September 15th.

ASTRA Camp Information - 

Happy Camper Live Information - 

Registration for 2023 Fall Young Inventor Challenge TBA!
Radio Flyer was our host venue in 2022
Here's what happened...

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Watch the 2021 Young Inventor Challenge Awards Show!
2022 to be Posted Soon!

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Show your game or toy idea to major toy companies, receive valuable feedback on your invention, and maybe even win prizes and have it considered for publishing! It is easy and fun! 

2023 Fall Young Inventor Challenge Registration Opening Soon! 

Here's What Happened at our 2022 In-Person & Virtual Fall Challenge

Winners were announced on November 19th at Radio Flyer

Young inventors in person receive Thinking Putty from Crazy Aaron's! 


Here was the Schedule for the Day!!! 

12-1pm Young Inventors set up and the judges and mentors meet

1-3pm Kids present to the judges and mentors 

3-4pm Vote tallying while kids get tours around Radio Flyer, group photo in front of giant RF wagon

4pm Awards ceremony


BEST GAME - Sponsored by Mattel 

Senior Winners: Chicken Scratch by Avalinn Olson (7th grade) of Lebanon, IL and

Ainsley Turkington (8th grade) of Caseyville, IL

Junior Winner: The Flibbertigibbet by Paula Juzenas (4th grade) of Palos Park, IL

Honorable Mention: Micro Golf by John Kampwerth (8th grade) of O’Fallon, IL and Eric Rybak (8th grade) of Collinsville, IL


MOST CREATIVE - Sponsored by Crazy Aaron’s

Senior Winners: Water Bottle Maze by Grant Middleton (8th grade) of O’Fallon, IL and

Jacob Portera (8th grade) of Caseyville, IL

Junior Winner: Flicking Village of Madness by Robert Fala (4th grade) of Palos Heights, IL

Honorable Mention: Rocket Building Spree by Jeremy Dugan (4th grade) of Skokie, IL and

Wilson Emidi (7th grade) of Chicago, IL


BEST PITCH - Sponsored by People Of Play: 

Senior Winners: Rock Paper Scissors Brawl by Max Gramelspacher (5th grade) and

Oliver Middleton (5th grade) of O’Fallon, IL

Junior Winners: Optimism for Autism by Isabella Slack (4th grade) of Palos Park, IL

Honorable Mention: Hide and Beep by Braxton Holland (10th grade) of Trophy Club, TX

Registration is closed for 2022 Challenge! It closed at 12 noon CST, October 31, 2022

Deadline to submit all entry materials was 12 noon November 7, 2022

$25 registration fee. If you registered before October 15, the registration fee was discounted to $15

Our Mission is to inspire the next generation to use creativity, critical thinking, and STEAM skills in the invention and innovation process and to connect professionals within the toy and game industry to mentor these young innovators in their design process.

The 15th Annual Young Inventor Challenge, provides an opportunity for children ages 6 to 18 to develop and pitch their original inventions to major toy and game companies, industry professionals, members of the media and general public. This unique and educational experience ignites imagination, creativity and presentation skills like no other, providing a means of taking these inventions to greater heights, with professional critiques from our industry experts.

We are the only young inventor program that has sponsorship and mentoring participation from top toy and game manufacturers around the world. Many of the winning inventions have been licensed by these global companies and can be found on store shelves today!

“Aside from being fun, engaging, and meaningful, the Young Inventor Challenge builds and reinforces sophisticated practices such as critical and creative thinking, problem-solving, and leadership,” she said. “These essential skills are needed to be successful in the 21st century.” -Carrie Martinez, Teacher, Palos Heights, IL

General Questions? Contact -

Interested in being a Mentor/Judge? Contact -

Our Young Inventor Challenge Ambassador Kedar Narayan
Interviews Richard Dickson, President and COO of Mattel! 
And... his Behind the Scenes Tour of Mattel and JMP Creative! 

One of our Young Inventor Challenge Winners!

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Young Inventor Challenge is Accredited! 

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Meet our Impressive and Committed
Young Inventor Challenge Advisory Board! 

Tim Walsh - Chairman of Young Inventor Challenge Advisory Board, Co-Founder Roo Games, designer, YouTuber at SeizethePlay

Alicia Alexander-Klitsner - Educator, Former YIC Director, currently works with judges/mentors

Helaina Cappel - Owner at Kids Table Board Gaming, former teacher, board game designer

Mary Couzin - Founder & President of Chicago Toy & Game Group, Inc. dba People of Play - POP!

Michael Gramelspacher - Toy Inventor and Co-Director / Founder at SG Labs, Co-Organizer for St Clare School Innovator Club (SCIC)

Ahren Hoffman - Executive Director of the Young Inventor Challenge, Marketing Director at Crazy Ahrens

Ken Johnson - Phase 10 inventor and on Oakland School District in MI where they host an all school toy and game competition

Julie McNamara - ALPS Teacher, Palos East School, Palos Heights, IL

Allison Miller - Founder and President of Happy Camp Live

Gene Murtha - ASTRA Board, POP Executive Committee, Regional Director of SCORE

Erik Quam - VP of New Product and Business Development, Smart Toys and Games

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