School projects on inventions work across science, English and history curricula. Invention projects are also an opportunity for students to practice their reasoning and independent thinking skills as they create their own inventions. For older students, you could add a marketing and business dimension by having students discuss ways to market and sell their invention. Students can also explore how one invention can lead to the creation of more inventions in the same field.
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This grade school project on inventions is very flexible. Divide the students into groups or pairs and assign each one a period of history. Students then research important inventions in that era and present a report. Or, assign students an inventor to research. They could then write a play about that inventor. If you are studying a particular period in history, for example ancient Greece, assign students different inventions from that period to research and present to the class.
Build a Better One
This invention project is for older grade schoolchildren. Children should take a common object or invention and think of a way to make it better. Assign objects to each student, or have students chose their own. The original object or invention could be a very simple everyday object, such as a fork, or a more complex invention, such as a car. Remind students that many inventions come about because people are trying to improve something. Point out that computers once took up an entire room, but people kept improving them until now they can be held in the hand. Students could make drawings of their improved object and present a report on it to the class.
Rubber Band Cars
This is a popular and creative lesson for older grade schoolchildren. Show children how to make a basic rubber-band powered car using rubber bands, cardboard and CDs for wheels. Challenge students to alter the design to invent a car that travels quickly, or for longer distances. Once the children have built their cars, you can test their designs by having races between the cars. You can also have children design a car that will travel for 3 feet while carrying a weight. Children can invent ways to carry the weight without having it fall off.
This invention project works for all ages of grade schoolchildren. Give each child a raw egg and a large variety of different materials, such as cardboard tubes, paper, disposable cups, cotton balls, corrugated cardboard, styrofoam packing peanuts and shaving foam. Challenge the children to invent a container for the egg, or a device such as a parachute, that will allow the egg to survive a drop from the school roof or a tall ladder without breaking. Once children have made their containers, you can drop them all and determine which ones worked the best.
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