Introduction: Sparklab - Design an Innovative Voting Poster

About: Spark!Lab is a hands -on invention studio in the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History. Spark!Lab activities communicate that invention is a process, rather than a single “Aha!” moment; provide vi…

Welcome to Spark!Lab digital. This is an online invention space where you get to be the inventor. There are no wrong answers Think like an inventor: how does your design work in an innovative way?

Design a poster that will encourage people to vote in the upcoming election. Using a program created with Scratch you can add and edit historic images, text and basic shapes to design your poster.


  • Inventive creativity
  • Internet access
  • Link, located in this Instructable, to the Scratch "Design a Voting Poster" program created by Spark!Lab.

Step 1: Invention Is a Process

There are just two things to keep in mind as you create your voting poster:

1. The invention process is not always linear, but inventors engage in these steps in some form or another:

  • Think it: Have a great idea for an invention
  • Explore it: Investigate inventions and ideas of the past
  • Sketch it: Draw pictures and diagrams to figure out how your invention might work
  • Create it: Build a prototype or model of your idea
  • Try it: Test your invention
  • Tweak it: Keep improving your idea
  • Sell it: Market your invention to people who might buy it

2. We also know everyone is inventive — and we do mean everyone! Today, you become the inventor. You will try new ideas, take risks, and learn how to keep going when things don’t go as planned.

Step 2: Think It

The first step of the invention process is to "think it," meaning to identify a problem you would like to solve and begin to imagine your solution.

What is the problem you are trying to solve?

How can you use images and text to encourage people to get out and vote? What would that look like? Will you design your poster to speak to a certain group, or to all people?

Step 3: Explore It

The next step of the invention process is to "explore it.” Inventors ask: “How have inventors solved this problem in the past?” and then conduct research to learn more about the problem they want to solve or to understand solutions that already may exist. They learn from what others have already tried and make sure that their solutions are new or different.

Voting is a right given to all American citizens 18 years of age or older. It has not always been that way. In the past people who lived in this country were not allowed to vote for many reasons, including ethnicity, the color or their skin or their gender. It is important that all people who are old enough do vote, so that their voices can be heard in the election.

Learn more about voting and get out and vote posters:

Click here to explore designs and images about voting and encouraging others to vote.

Click here to find out more about voting rights.

Click here to visit this Smithsonian Learning Lab page about how young people have shaken up elections.

Watch this video on how young people can make a difference in elections.

Step 4: Sketch It

Inventors use sketching as a way to organize their ideas.

Drawing an idea allows inventors to imagine what their invention might look like and how it will work. Try sketching out your ideas before creating your design! Take some time to think about the message you hope to get across and what types of things will compel people to get out and vote on election day.

You can sketch your ideas with paper and pencil, or you can try using a digital format. Remember! Inventors rarely get it right on the first try. Whatever the method, you may need to erase and re-draw your invention as you continue to think through how you want to solve the problem.

Click here to learn more about inventors' sketches in the Smithsonian Collection.

Step 5: Create It

Now it is time to create your innovative idea. In this step, inventors get to see their idea turn into something real. Building a model or laying out a design can also help you learn about any issues there are with their idea. Your design will show the colors, placement and arrangement of elements that will be your design.

How can you design a meaningful poster that encourages people to vote in the upcoming elections? How will the size and placement of the images you use make your poster speak to others? What group or groups of people will your get out and vote poster be designed to reach?

Click here to be sent to the digital "Design a Voting Poster" activity on the Scratch website. When to get to the website click the green flag to begin.

Once you have created your design, move on to the next step in the invention process, Try It!

Step 6: Try It

Now that you have created your get out and vote poster, take some time to imagine how effective it might be in getting people to place their vote during the next election.

  • How did you use colors and shape to get peoples attention?
  • Would your poster work best as an online graphic or as a poster at a local business?
  • Does your poster try to make any special statements about voting?
  • Who is most likely to be drawn to your poster?
  • Is there anything in your poster that might be misunderstood as offensive or improper?
  • What is the color scheme or your poster?
  • What is the strongest design element of your poster (shape, color, spacing)?
  • How is your get out and vote poster different from other ones you may have seen?

Share your poster with others. Ask them for their input about your design.

  • What did they like best about your design?
  • What did they think needed improving?
  • What new ideas did you get by sharing your idea with them?

Step 7: Tweak It

Now that you’ve created your voting poster, thought about the design, and shared your idea with others, it’s time to tweak your idea! Now is the time to ask yourself, "What changes can I make to improve the design of my poster that will encourage people to get out and vote in the next election?”

Inventors typically don't succeed with an invention on the first try. Inventors make changes to their designs to make them work better. Usually, they tweak their idea many times before it is finished. Once tweaks are made, inventors test their ideas again. It can take many tries to get it right.

Go back and make some tweaks to your design. If you have saved your design you can go back and start of there. If you did not save your design you can click here to go back to the Design a Voting Poster activity in Scratch to create it again, this time with your tweaks in place.

Step 8: Sell It

The final step of the invention process is to sell your idea. Selling your invention is not only about putting it up for sale. Selling an idea often happens when you share your idea with others after you have made your final tweaks.

Tell us about your invention on social media:

  • How does your design encourage people to get out and vote?
  • What makes your design unique?
  • Who is most likely to pay close attention to your voting poster?

We want to hear from you! Follow us on Instagram at @si_invention or Facebook @lemelsoncenter and use the hashtag #sparklab on your posts.