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Lesson Plans on Inventive Thinking and Creativity

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Authentic Journal Keeping

Authentic Journal Keeping

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Activity 4: Developing an Invention Idea

Now that your students have had an introduction to the inventive process, it is time for them to find a problem and create their own invention to solve it.

Step One: Begin by asking your students to conduct a survey. Tell them to interview everyone that they can think of to find out what problems need solutions. What kind of invention, tool, game, device, or idea would be helpful at home, work, or during leisure time? (You can use the Invention Idea Survey)

Step Two: Ask the students to list the problems that need to be solved.

Step Three: comes the decision-making process. Using the list of problems, ask the students to think of which problems would be possible for them to work on. They can do this by listing the pros and cons for each possibility. Predict the outcome or possible solution(s) for each problem. Make a decision by selecting one or two problems that provide the best options for an inventive solution. (Duplicate the Planning and Decision-Making Framework)

Step Four: Begin an Inventor's Log or Journal. A record of your ideas and work will help you develop your invention and protect it when completed. Use Activity Form - Young Inventor's Log to help students understand what can be included on every page.

General Rules For Authentic Journal Keeping

  • Using a bound notebook, make notes each day about the things you do and learn while working on your invention.
  • Record your idea and how you got it.
  • Write about problems you have and how you solve them.
  • Write in ink and do not erase.
  • Add sketches and drawings to make things clear.
  • List all parts, sources, and costs of materials.
  • Sign and date all entries at the time they are made and have them witnessed.
Step Five: To illustrate why record-keeping is important, read the following story about Daniel Drawbaugh who said that he invented the telephone, but didn't have one single paper or record to prove it.

Long before Alexander Graham Bell filed a patent application in 1875, Daniel Drawbaugh claimed to have invented the telephone. But since he had no journal or record, the Supreme Court rejected his claims by four votes to three. Alexander Graham Bell had excellent records and was awarded the patent for the telephone.

Activity 5: Brainstorming for Creative Solutions

Now that the students have one or two problems to work on, they must take the same steps that they did in solving the class problem in Activity Three. These steps could be listed on the chalkboard or a chart.
  1. Analyze the problem(s). Select one to work on.
  2. Think of many, varied, and unusual ways of solving the problem. List all of the possibilities. Be non-judgmental. (See Brainstorming in Activity 1 and SCAMPER in Activity 2.)
  3. Select one or more possible solutions to work on.
  4. Improve and refine your ideas.
Now that your students have some exciting possibilities for their invention projects, they will need to use their critical thinking skills to narrow down the possible solutions. They can do this by asking themselves the questions in the next activity about their inventive idea.

Activity 6: Practicing the Critical Parts of Inventive Thinking

  1. Is my idea practical?
  2. Can it be made easily?
  3. Is it as simple as possible?
  4. Is it safe?
  5. Will it cost too much to make or use?
  6. Is my idea really new?
  7. Will it withstand use, or will it break easily?
  8. Is my idea similar to something else?
  9. Will people really use my invention? (Survey your classmates or the people in your neighborhood to document the need or usefulness of your idea - adapt the invention idea survey.)

Activity 7: Completing the Invention

When students have an idea that meets most of the above qualifications in Activity 6, they need to plan how they are going to complete their project. The following planning technique will save them a great deal of time and effort:
  1. Identify the problem and possible solution. Give your invention a name.
  2. List the materials needed to illustrate your invention and to make a model of it. You will need paper, pencil, and crayons or markers to draw your invention. You might use cardboard, paper, clay, wood, plastic, yarn, paper clips, and so forth to make a model. You might also want to use an art book or a book on model-making from your school library.
  3. List, in order, the steps for completing your invention.
  4. Think of the possible problems that might occur. How would you solve them?
  5. Complete your invention. Ask your parents and teacher to help with the model.
In Summary
What - describe the problem. Materials - list the materials needed. Steps - list the steps to complete your invention. Problems - predict the problems that could occur.

Activity 8: Naming the Invention

An invention can be named in one of the following ways:
  1. Using the inventor's name
    Levi Strauss = LEVI'S® jeans
    Louis Braille = Alphabet System
  2. Using the components or ingredients of the invention
    Root Beer
    Peanut Butter
  3. With initials or acronyms
    IBM ®
    S.C.U.B.A.®
  4. Using word combinations (notice repeated consonant sounds and rhyming words).
    KIT KAT ®
    HULA HOOP ®
    PUDDING POPS ®
    CAP'N CRUNCH ®
  5. Using the product's function
    SUPERSEAL ®
    DUSTBUSTER ®
    vacuum cleaner
    hairbrush
    earmuffs
Related Video
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