So many of the things we enjoy were once new inventions. Kids have a natural urge to create and take things apart to see how they work. Studying inventions blends history, math, science, communication skills, art and thinking skills. Kids have come up with many inventions, such as earmuffs by a 15-year old, Popsicles by an 11-year old, Braille by a 12-year old and a kiddie stool invented by a kindergartener!
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Make Your Own Invention
Ideas for inventions often come when things irritate us, or tasks seem too difficult. Ask students to make a list, over a weekend, of things that either irritate them or seem too difficult. As they look over their lists, they should try to think of ways to solve these problems, and choose one for their invention. Discuss the ideas with them, and provide any needed guidance. Allow them to make working models to demonstrate to their classmates, or non-working models in cases in which a working model would be impossible. Students with non-working models can draw illustrations, or build the invention with alternate materials, such as interlocking, building bricks. Optionally, students can create an advertisement encouraging people to purchase their inventions.
Create a Board Game
Create your own board game, and bring it to class to play. Make the game board of sturdy material, such as heavy cardboard, or laminate the board after finishing it. Use colour and a pleasing design. Write an understandable copy of instructions for the game, and give it a name. Optionally, create a box or other container for your game.
Use your vivid imagination to think of a "Rube Goldberg" invention. Webster's New World Dictionary defines a Rube Goldberg as "a comically involved, complicated invention, laboriously contrived to perform a simple operation." Have students research Rube Goldberg and draw their own wacky inventions, then share them with classmates.
Inventions of the Future
Many science fiction writers, including H.G. Wells, wrote about fantastical machines that actually came to fruition in the future. Research some of these writers and inventions that came to pass. As a class, create a timeline showing the publication date of the books or stories, and when the invention came into use. Envision the future, and think of how life in the future might be different. Have students draw their own futuristic inventions and present them to the class.
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