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Lesson 1: What is an INVENTION?

Let's go back in time and meet one of the very first inventions!
Yes!  A Time machine!  I want to go!
Kids with Capes
Task 1: What is an Invention? Activity
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Google Slide Presentation:  Use your evaluative thinking skills to:
  • Select the best invention for each user's need 
  • Describe how inventions have evolved 
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Meet the characters in the movie The Croods.  GUY shares a few of his new inventions.  GRUG, caveman dad, is not so sure about Guy's ideas.  Watch this video clip and consider these questions:
  • How are brains, ideas and inventions related?
  • Can anyone be an inventor?
  • How does Guy use materials around him to create his inventions?
  • Why do you think Grug does not like Guy's inventions?  Why or why not?
  • Can you think of an invention you or your parents do not like?
Inventors have been creating new devices or better ways to do things since humans have been on earth.  Inventors can be adults, children and from any country in the world.  Check out what this nine year old boy in Kenya, a country in Africa, did when he learned about the COVID virus coming to his country.
  • What problem did 9-year old Steve Wamukota tackle with his hand-washing machine?
  • Who is the USER?
  • What is the NEED?
  • Did his solution work?
  • Is he done or is he planning another ITERATION of his machine?
  • Steve's dad called him a hero.  Do you think Steve is a hero?  Why or why not?

Now it is your turn to look for problems YOU see in your home, school, community and even the world.  Write down these problems on the Things That Bug Me handout.  Talk to your parents, other family members, teachers and friends and see what problems they notice or experience.  The more problems recorded, the better!

For example, 4th grader Maddox Pritchard from Tennessee watched his dad dig holes with a shovel for plants and then have to go and get his tape measure to make sure the hole was the correct size.  This took a long time to do.  Maddox was curious if he could think of an easier way to do this.

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Maddox invented a shovel with the measurements printed onto the tool so his dad no longer had to go and get his tape measure.  Maddox shared his invention on Shark Tank and got a deal from Mr. Wonderful!

Click on document to download and enlarge
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TASK 2: What is an ENGINEER?

Inventors come in all ages, professions, ages and abilities.  However, there is one job that focuses on problems and solving them - an ENGINEER.  What is an ENGINEER?


  • ASK lots of questions about a problem

  • IMAGINE many solutions to the problem and sketch what they are thinking

  • CREATE models (prototypes) to test ideas

  • IMPROVE their solution based on what they learned in the tests

Activity Option #1
Jessi needs help.  
USER:  Jessi
NEED:  Needs a way to scratch her back
Using the materials in the image below, create a backscratcher that would allow people like Jessi to scratch the middle of her back.
What you create is an INVENTION!  You are an inventor!
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Activity Option #2
Click on graphic organizer to see  full version.
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Use this graphic organizer to help your group ASK, IMAGINE, CREATE and IMPROVE your lunchbox.
Be ready to share:
  • ONE problem you do not like about your current lunchbox
  • Sketch of your final idea
  • Model of your lunchbox.
Would you like to see what other young students like yourself have invented?  Click on the Me, Myself and I slides below and complete the graphic organizer.




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