If you had to suddenly name five creative people, who would come to mind? Artists? Musicians? Scientists? Almost certainly, at least one of the people you named would be an inventor. Helping students learn more about inventing, and the processes for developing their own inventions is a wonderful way for students to both learn about, and experience, creativity. If you are interested in teaching about inventing, but hesitate at the thought of planning curriculum around it, hesitate no further. Invent Iowa has a free guidebook just for you! Invent Iowa, a program of the Belin-Blank Center at the University of Iowa, is designed to support talented young inventors and their teachers. Of course, if you live in Iowa, you can investigate the program itself. But if not, you can benefit from the extensive teaching materials, generously available for download. Just click, and you can download the full Curriculum Guide in either English or Spanish. The Guide includes units for primary or intermediate-aged students, along with activity sheets to help young inventors record every step of their process.
If you are worried about teaching inventions and inventing in these days of standards (AKA Common Core), just think about all the informational text students will have to read while learning about the invention process and researching their problem. Think about the mathematics involved in creating scale diagrams, or the persuasive writing required to “sell” their idea to potential investors. It is precisely this type of motivating curricular center that can make implementing the standards an integrated whole rather than a seemingly endless list of component parts.
Perhaps your students will be able to follow in the footsteps of the self-proclaimed Nerd Herd, whose invention, the Walk-n-Wheel, a combination walker and wheelchair, was the 2013 Invent Iowa winner. And even if their inventions are smaller, the opprotunity to explore the invention process–in school, after school, or at home–is surely a step toward a more creative future. And as I look toward the day I may need a Walk-n-Wheel of my own, I’m grateful to think about young people getting ready to invent it–and whatever comes next.