Inventing is about recognising problems and applying science and technology to finding a solution. Simple invention projects are a great way for kids to learn about engineering and to think about ways of finding solutions to everyday problems. Invention projects can give students insight into what it takes to solve technological or practical problems -- and are also a fun way to have students thinking logically.
You can encourage students to think about simple inventions by having them take a simple invention or device found around the house and thinking of ways to improve it. For example, students could think about ways to make a bowl more useful by making it spill-proof. Students can draw a picture of their improved invention, labelling the parts, and come up with a name. They can also discuss how their invention works and why it offers an improvement.
Invent a Game
Inventions can be fun. Challenge students to invent a new board game. Students should think up the rules and design the game board. They can then create a working version of the game using cardboard for the game board and pieces. Students can play one another's invented games and suggest improvements or rule changes that may make the game more exciting. As an alternative, students can work in groups to invent a new sport. They should write up the rules and draw any special equipment that they need. They can then practice playing each sport.
Create Your Own Invention
Discuss with students the process of inventing. This process begins with a problem the inventor wants to solve. For example, if the problem is "My book bag is too heavy," they can start looking for a solution by asking, "How can I make my book bag easier to carry?" Students could identify a problem they think needs a solution and research what has already been done. They should then design a simple invention to solve the problem. Students could include information on how they would build and test the invention and how it would work. Older students could build a mock-up or a model of their invention and explain it to the class.
Egg Drop Challenge
Students must design a simple invention that will prevent their egg from breaking when dropped from a tall height. Encourage students to think of various ways to prevent the egg from breaking, such as a parachute, an air-filled cushion or a packing it in soft material. Younger students can design their own egg protecting device. Give each student a raw egg and a selection of materials, such as cotton balls, plastic cups, tape, newspaper, cardboard and packing materials. Test the students' inventions by dropping them from a tall height and seeing if the eggs remain intact.