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Inventors And Inventions 1Inventors-And-Inventions-1

  • Subject: Technology
  • |
  • Grade(s): K-5
  • |
  • Duration: Two class periods

Lesson Plan Sections


Students will understand the following:
1. Some inventions come about accidentally.
2. The story of an invention can be told in an interesting fashion.


For this lesson, you will need:
Computer with Internet access
Printed index or online database of articles in periodicals


1. In this activity, you will help students do research to find out how two indispensable tools of daily life—sticky notes and Velcro—came to be. As you introduce the subject of their investigations, invite students to add to the list any other everyday objects they may be curious about—for example:
  • Swiss army knives
  • Book lights
  • Hand warmers for winter sports enthusiasts
The students' end products will be written reports.
2. Specify for students the questions you want them to answer about each everyday object they study:
  • Why did the object first come about? Did someone set out to make it, or did an accident of sorts inspire the inventor?
  • Through what stages did the object develop? What caused changes in the object over time?
  • How did the everyday object in question affect the way people behave?
  • What is the economic impact of the object? That is, how many are made each year, and how many people are involved in making it?
3. Motivate students to show their inventiveness in figuring out where to look to get information about the discovery of sticky notes, Velcro, or another everyday product. Rather than relying on printed encyclopedias as students so often do for research, show them how to use alternative sources for this inquiry. Demonstrate for students how to look for information on the Web, in periodical indexes, and at corporate Web sites—for example, the 3M Web site for Post-it Brand sticky notes.
4. Tell students they should write their reports in the narrative mode, moving forward in chronological order: explaining where the inventor began, what happened when, and how events transpired once the inventor or someone else recognized the usefulness of the new product.
5. Ask students to think about narrative techniques that create suspense or human interest—elements that would be appropriate to a narrative about an invention. In particular, encourage them to think and use quotations—for example, statements by the inventor or by the marketer—in writing about the development of the product.
6. Conclude by asking students if they thought this project was more about science or more about writing. Help students see that it's just as important to write well on a science topic as it is when writing a book report about a novel.

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Invite students to draw a picture that represents one stage in the development of the invention you've tracked with students. Arrange students' pictures so that they show a chronological progression.

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Discussion Questions

1. There's a saying that genius is 10 percent inspiration and 90 percent perspiration. What does that saying mean, and do you agree with it now that you've studied some inventions and inventors? Why or why not?
2. Identify a new invention that you or someone you know has used in the last six months. Is it a brand-new invention, or did it grow out of something else? If you can't think of anything, focus on computer software.
3. Inventors often patent their inventions. What does it mean to patent an invention? In what way does patenting protect an inventor?
4. What can an inventor do to make it easier for him or her to come up with ideas?

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You can evaluate students' narratives using the following three-point rubric:
Three points: substantial content; highly coherent and unified paragraphs with particular attention to transitions appropriate to narratives; no errors in grammar, usage, and mechanics
Two points: enough content; coherent and unified paragraphs with some attention to transitions appropriate to narratives; some errors in grammar, usage, and mechanics
One point: not enough content; incoherent paragraphs lacking in unity and transitions; many errors in grammar, usage, and mechanics
You can ask your students to contribute to the assessment rubric by determining a minimum number of facts that each narrative about an invention should include.

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Medical Equipment 101
Contact a local hospital or a paramedic facility that serves your community to inquire whether you can arrange a tour for students to see and hear about new, cutting-edge equipment.

A Better Solution
Discuss with students that a lot of people use backpacks for carrying books and notebooks, but point out that backpacks were not originally designed to transport books. Challenge your students to redesign a backpack or come up with an entirely different object to better meet the needs of people who carry many books. After students have come up with several suggestions, have the class vote on the best idea.

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Suggested Readings

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Click on any of the vocabulary words below to hear them pronounced and used in a sentence.

speaker    inspiration (audio not available)
Definition: something that moves a mind to create
Context: Many times a dream acts as inspiration for an inventor, a novelist, or a painter.

speaker    newfangled (audio not available)
Definition: New and maybe needlessly novel
Context: One elderly person complained that the remote control device was newfangled; the other elderly person appreciated the convenience of the device.

speaker    patent (audio not available)
Definition: A document that gives an inventor the exclusive rights to manufacture or sell the item.
Context: The expression patent pending on an object means that the inventor has applied for the right to be the only person who can make and sell the object.

speaker    serendipity (audio not available)
Definition: A fortunate accident in which a person finds something valuable or pleasing when he or she was not looking for it
Context: The inventor did not want to admit the invention came about by serendipity; he wanted the world to think he had carefully designed the invention.

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This lesson plan may be used to address the academic standards listed below. These standards are drawn from Content Knowledge: A Compendium of Standards and Benchmarks for K-12 Education: 2nd Edition and have been provided courtesy of theMid-continent Research for Education and Learningin Aurora, Colorado.
Grade level: K-2
Subject area: science and technology
Understands the nature of technological design.
Knows that some objects occur in nature, whereas others have been designed and made by people to solve human problems.

Grade level: 3-5
Subject area: science
Understands the interactions of science, technology and society.
Knows that people continue inventing new ways of doing things, solving problems and getting work done; these new ideas and inventions often affect other people; sometimes the effects are good and sometimes they are bad.

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Summer Productions, Inc.

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