If there is one thing teachers and parents could use about right now it is something new, something productive, something that kids will enjoy, right? As a bonus, how about something that can teach a variety of skills in an interesting interdisciplinary way? Let’s talk about inventing.
Thinking about inventors and inventing can fit into school (or at least school-ish) activities at many levels and across subject areas. You can read about inventors, talk about inventions over time and how they fit into history, look at the ways simple machines evolved into more complex inventions. You can study problem solving and design thinking. You can talk about why we don’t know more about women inventors or inventors of color. Remember that The Henry Ford has curriculum on innovation learning that can help you get started.
And if you’d like to spur budding inventors on to create new things, you can help them become involved in the 2020 Inventors’ Challenge. What year could possibly need new inventions more? Sponsored by AT&T, Imagination.org, and Two Bit Circus Foundation, the Inventors’ Challenge encourages young people from preschool through high school to identify problems in their community, invent something to solve a problem, and create a video to share their invention. For example, Alex Knoll, a 12-year-old featured on their website, noticed a man in a wheelchair struggling to open a door. He wondered if there was an app to help people identify stores that had automatic doors. When he found there wasn’t, he was able to develop one through a local inventors’ program. But inventions do not have to be technology-driven. Many years ago, one of my second grade students developed a page turner for his quadriplegic father based on a large pencil. It not only made his father very proud, but it was genuinely helpful.
All videos for the 2020 challenge will be posted on the Imagination.org YouTube channel. I can’t wait to see them. I hope they include someone you know!