Introduction: Create a Piece of Skateable Art

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, and you can create an invention using the pieces provided — or create some pieces of your own. Think like an inventor: how does your design solve a problem?

Create a Piece of Skateable Art virtual materials — or create your own parts and pieces. Using Tinkercad, you can delete, reshape, and duplicate elements - and you can create new parts, too.


  • Free Tinkercad account
  • Inventive creativity
  • "Create a Piece of Skateable Art" parts and environments from the Tinkercad website

Create a Piece of Skateable art environment 1

Create a Piece of Skateable art environment 2

Step 1: Invention Is a Process

There are just two things to keep in mind as you create a piece of skateable art:

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.

Think about how you define “skateable art.” Is it a graphic or sculpture that someone can use as a skateboarding surface? How will your design be interesting to both non-skaters and skaters? Where would you locate your skateable art? How might your skateable art be accessible by people with visual impairment or a disability? What types of materials will you use to make your skateable art? What makes you’re skateable art something that people would also like look at and appreciate visually?

Step 3: Explore It

The next step of the invention process is to explore the question, “How have inventors solved this problem in the past?” and then conduct research to learn more about the problem to understand solutions that already may exist.

Skateable art is created specifically for a public place like a park or city plaza. It provides a new and interesting challenge for skateboarders and is aesthetically pleasing and enjoyable for the general public. Your skateable art invention should express your creative vision as an artist and provide enjoyment for skateboarders and the public. Explore some resources that take a look at history, innovation, and places that are important to skateboarding:

Explore the history of skateboarding and how it connects to invention, innovation and art:

Click here to learn more about skateboarding innovation from the Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation.

Click here to explore a Smithsonian Learning Lab about skateable art.

Click here to explore some skateable art in Miami Florida.

Click here to check out a resource for advocates and planners wanting to know more about public skateparks.

Click here to see a list of skateboarding tricks written by Michael Hays in preparation for the shooting of the "Street Survival" video.

Click here to learn more about skateboarding from Dr. Skateboard.

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 invention before building! Take some time to sketch your ideas, images, and thoughts about what your piece of skateable art might look like.

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:

Now it is time to build a prototype of your invention idea. In this step, inventors get to see their idea turn into something real. Building a model can also help you learn about any issues there are with their invention design. Your prototype will show the layout and features of your skateable art.

How can you use these virtual materials to create a piece of skateable art? How will your skateable art fit into the environment around it? Will your skateable art piece be displayed in a park, an art gallery, an urban environment, or somewhere else? Who will use your invention? What types of skate tricks could someone try using your skateable art?

Click here to go to the Tinkercad site where you can create a piece of skateable art in an urban environment.

Click here to go to the Tinkercad site where you can create a piece of skateable art in a park environment.

Step 6:

Now that you have created your 3D model, take some time to imagine how people will use and experience your skateable art.

  • How do you anticipate that skaters will use and enjoy your invention?
  • 3. How do you anticipate that non-skaters will use and enjoy your invention?
  • What are some other places where your skateable art could be installed or placed?
  • How do weather conditions like rain or bright sun affect your skateable art?
  • Is your skateable art invention large or small? 
  • What could you do to improve your skateable art?

Share your 3D model and ideas 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:

Now that you’ve created your skateable art, thought about how it will be used, and shared your idea with others, it’s time to tweak your invention! Now is the time to ask yourself, "What changes can I make to improve my skateable art design?”

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

Go back to your design in Tinkercad and tweak it maximize how it could be enjoyed by both skaters and non skaters.

Step 8:

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

Tell us about your invention on social media:

  • Who will use your invention?
  • What makes your invention unique?
  • How does your invention work?

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