Incorporating inventions into school projects can be a difficult task at times because you are theoretically working with something that does not yet exist; however, narrowing the topic down to easy inventions and easy invention teaching ideas will help to make the process more educational -- and less tedious -- for the teacher and the students.
After a unit on different inventions, divide the students into groups. Tell the students that they must come up with a new invention entirely by themselves. They will have to do research to ensure their creation is unique. You might want to give the students total freedom, or you could provide a category for them to work with. For example, ask them to create an invention related to transportation or to education.
Assign each student, group of students or the entire class a specific project to work on. For example, require them to follow instructions to make an origami hang glider, a hot air balloon out of a plastic jug or a spinning balloon (see Science Toy Maker in References). Another option is to give them a specific task, such as designing a new type of musical instrument that is smaller than a guitar or a tool for writing with your feet.
Assign students a specific invention or allow them to pick their own. They must write a research paper about both the invention and the inventor. Within the context of the essay, require them to answer questions such as, What inspired the inventor to make this creation? How did the invention help other people? Is the invention still used today or has something else come along to replace it? Students should share their research with the class.
Assign simple interdisciplinary activities to show students the connections between inventions and the rest of the world. For example, they could read a short biography on one of the many famous inventors throughout history. Tie in math and instruct students to make a scale drawing of one of their favorite inventions, or bring artistic skills into the picture by asking students to draw a comic strip that depicts the creation of their favorite invention.
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