According to "Curious George" Margolin, “an ‘inventor’ is almost any child under the age of about 9. He…lives partly in the ‘real’ world and ‘much’ in a world of possibilities and make-believe.” This is great news if you are teaching kids 9 and under, but how do we keep this curiosity alive in our older students? The following sites and resources can help maintain this intrinsic sense of curiosity that blossoms during the younger years. Please browse through these resources and search for more that will suit your needs on The Gateway. Good luck, and may you and your students be inspired and innovative this year!
Thinking about young inventors brings back memories of my fourth grade invention convention. I spent many evenings pondering problems in the world around me and how I could fix them. My classmates did the same thing, and on the day of our convention, I was amazed by the variety of ideas in the projects. The inventions ranged from an aluminum can crusher, a pet-hair removing glove, an alarm to alert you when your mail comes in, and even a burglar alarm that turned on lights and flushed the toilet. Although most of the ideas might not have been particularly practical, the invention process taught a group of fourth graders to solve real-world problems around them.
Inventor Ed’s Kids Inventor Resources has some good information for young inventors that can help you bring inventing into the classroom. MIT also has a wonderful collection of resources and links related to inventing and teaching innovation and engineering in the classroom. Don’t forget to check out the PBS Design Squad Trash to Treasure competition for a really neat contest for kids ages 5-19. That contest ends September 5th, though, so you’d have to act fast! Speaking of competitions, check out The Idea Locker from By Kids For Kids, which has links to all kinds of different competitions for young inventors, innovators, and scientists.
We spend our days teaching our students the things they need to learn to move on to the next grade, and eventually, succeed in the world. Teachers also have the important job of keeping the inquisitiveness and wonder of the world alive, and rekindling it when paradigms start to set in. Read this inspiring article by Mr. Margolin about inventing, and think about how you can help change the world by encouraging your students to become young inventors.
In celebration of National Inventor’s Month, I urge you to look at how you challenge your students’ curiosity, problem-solving, and creativity in your classroom. As school begins around the country, it’s the perfect time to step back and look at the big picture of what you are planning to teach your students this year. Can you teach your students to be more inventive and creative while still covering all the standards you are required to teach for your subject and grade? Remember that you can use the standards suggestion tool on The Gateway to discover how the activities you choose will fit in to your curriculum.
Whew! That should give you plenty of starting material to create lots of little inventors in your classroom. I hope you all find at least some small way to encourage this problem solving and creativity in your classrooms some time this year.
~Peggy's Corner - 8/14/2010~