Teaching Through Invention
Invite your students to invent a better mousetrap -- or a better mouse! This week, Education World lessons focus on inventors and inventions, challenging your students to see the world in a whole new way. Included: Five "inventive" problem-solving lessons.
"Throughout history, inventions have helped people discover new worlds, build communities, develop resources, increase productivity, cure diseases, ease burdens, and enjoy life to the fullest. ... New inventions lead to new technologies, create new jobs, and improve our quality of life."
--The U.S. Patent Office
Inventing -- building something new or making something better -- is often thought of as a purely creative act. In fact, invention demands much more than a vision. It requires previous knowledge and new information; the ability to observe, analyze, and identify problems; and the utilization of critical-thinking skills to find appropriate and workable solutions. This week, the Education World lesson planning article focuses on inventors, inventions, and the process of inventing, requiring your students to utilize all those skills in productive and enjoyable ways.
A brief description of each activity appears below. Click any headline for a complete teaching resource!
- Inventions from National Geographic World
The National Geographic Society provides several interconnected games that test kids' knowledge about inventors and inventions.
- Eureka! A WebQuest on Inventions
In this WebQuest, students research inventors and their inventions, explore the process of inventing, and create their own inventions.
- Selected Resources for Patents, Inventions, and Technology Transfer
Stanford University provides this list of links to resources about patents and the patent process.
This About.com site offers many resources on inventions and inventors, including inventors categorized according to such ethnic or minority groups as women, Native Americans, African Americans, Hispanics, Chinese, and so on.
- Inventors and Inventions Theme Page
The Community Learning Network provides an excellent list of links to sites containing lessons and activities about inventors and inventing appropriate for K-12 students.
- Inventors, Inventions and Scientists
Connecting Students provides this comprehensive list of resources for teachers and students.
- Inventors and Inventions
Gander Academy in Newfoundland, Canada, provides a number of well-categorized links to resources about inventors and inventions.
- Inventors & Inventions for K-12 Education
The Internet School Library Media Center has compiled an extensive list of resources on inventions for K-12 students and teachers.
- Wacky Patents
This archive of wacky patents includes the inventor's name, the patent number, and patent design illustrations.
- Inventors and Inventions
Education World provides two original Internet scavenger hunts on inventions -- one for elementary students and one for older students.
- Inventors Museum
This online museum features plenty of interesting information about inventions in a variety of categories, including communication inventions, colonial inventors, and medical inventions. Explore Fun and Games to learn about two 12-year-olds who invented a signaling device for hearing-impaired hockey players!
In this WebQuest, students design an invention that will help get a job done using less work and less time.
- The Inventive Thinking Curriculum Project
This clear and comprehensive project from the United States Patent and Trademark Office provides advice and activities teachers can use to help students develop problem-solving skills.