Software and Hardware Requirements :
Computer(s), printer, Internet Link.
Word processing, encyclopedia and drawing software, Hyper Studio,
Optional: HyperCard or other presentation program, scanner,
digital or video camera, materials from the "Invent America" Program
Books on inventions, coordinated with school library.
Materials to design and/or construct inventions, according to
need and availability.
Parental support for researching and in the case of constructing
Time Required: 10 - 20 class-hours, at the 8th grade level..
Note: The idea can evolve into an ongoing program for an
after school program.
Phases of the Program:
1. The teacher will reintroduce the idea of "Invention" by reviewing
what the students know about the scientific method, energy, machines,
and Leonardo Da Vinci (a wonderful project done during December
break). For spring or winter break, the children will
bring in information about inventors. A curriculum sheet will
cover various reference sites on the Internet, as well as CD ROM's
available in school. The rubric will cover all requirements for
2. During a discussion of the inventors and their inventions,
the students will be told that they are going to become inventors
for the next two months. They will find out what "Camp Invention"
is in New York. Mention, and if possible show other children's
inventions: "underwater walkie talkie", "tearless onion slicer",
They will fill out the first two columns of the "What I know,
What I want to know, and What I learned" Sheet.
We will find out how many think they might be able to invent something.
Besides discussing why people invent and improve products, we
will discuss the invention ideas the students identified over
the vacation. All students will be encouraged to think that they
are able to create and invent.
3. As a classroom group, the students will use the computer to
make a list of inventions they would like to create for themselves.
Using the overhead projector, we will show the growing list as
different students type in ideas for inventions. We will also
Print out the list and post it in the classroom. The students
will keep track of the class list by computer.
Conversations have been held with other teachers to have the study
of invention cross the curriculum by including invention-related
activities in a variety of subject areas such as English, reading,
mathematics, and social studies.
4. We will visit the school library and/or the computer lab so
the students may look up information on inventions. We will use
electronic encyclopedias, World Wide Web sites, and computer software
programs (if available) along with traditional library resources,
according to the curriculum sheet for inventions. At home, or
in class, the students may use "how things work" type programs
and thinking skills puzzle-type programs to study cause and effect.
5. The students will be invited to process letters to scientists,
inventors, government agencies (NASA, military groups, etc.) and
companies requesting information on invention and new ideas.
6. We will discuss the idea that not all inventions are complicated.
For example, one of the national winning entries in an invention
competition for students was a ribbon and barrette holder designed
by a first grade student. This invention was made from a wire
We will talk about simple inventions that might help the student's
parents at home.
7. They will have to write or word process a short description
of their invention and make a drawing (on paper or on the computer)
of the invention. Their ideas will be shared with the class.
The students will use a computer drawing program to design and
label their invention ideas. We will print out invention ideas
for the class.
8. Students will make computer presentations of students advertising
We will use a word processing or other program and let the students
enter information they find about their invention or similar inventions
. Students will be encouraged to continue to enter information
throughout the school year. Using a scanner or digital camera,
invention drawings may be placed into the document. This
work should become a booklet (diary) of class invention work and
ideas collected throughout the year. The book should be available
for checkout from the school library.
9. Dividing the students into groups, each group will create
(design on paper) a very simple Rube Goldberg-type cause and effect
machine. (Rules for construction, materials, and safety
will be clearly stated in a rubric.)
10. Parents will be invited to visit the classroom for
a program in which students talk about their inventions and show
either the designs for an invention that is not possible at this
time or actual student-created inventions.
Students and the school may participate in the INVENT
If desired, a school fair can be celebrated in the school or
set up on the Internet.
Invention ideas may also be sent to "Scientific American
Explorations, at 415 Madison Avenue, NY,NY, 10017, for publication
in their children's magazine "EXPLORATIONS".
CURRICULUM PAGE FOR FINDING INVENTORS:
As a general site to visit for information about
science and other homework questions, you can go to:
Learn who invented what and get more great information
about inventors and inventing at this interesting Massachussets
Institute of Technology site:
To research, develop and showcase your invention
(or any science project) you can get ideas from cartoon scientist
Bunsen Bob, at :
To find information about an inventor, in this
site you can put in the "keyword" inventor, with the name
of the invention or topic you want to learn about:
(For example, inventor electricity brings
up Benjamin Franklin)
For an exciting on-line museum experience with
exhibits on visual illusions and ideas on things you can do with
light and the computer, you can visit:
Exploratorium's Online Exhibits
Idea and Program adapted from project promoted by The Apple Learning
Institute, and designed by:
Peggy Rodgers, Retired Grade 2 Teacher, Florida
Also includes suggestions by Joan Weber, Glendale I.S. 119 (New
York City) Technology Teacher and staff member at "Camp
Invention 1999" and "Camp Invention 2000" in New York City.
Copyright 2001-2006, Manuel Perez
All Rights Reserved. May be reproduced and adapted for
All photographic images are property of the author.
Animated GIFs courtesy MediaBuilder.