TeachersFirst's Inventors and Inventions Resources

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Invent and Innovate! This collection of reviewed resources from TeachersFirst is selected to help teachers, parents, and students learn about inventors and inventions. Use these resources for science or social studies lessons and activities about innovation and invention, in observance of National Inventors' Day (celebrated on February 11, Thomas Edison's birthday),  or at any time during the school year. Whether you are simply learning about the history of invention or planning a schoolwide Invention Convention, these resources will provide inspiration and project possibilities.

Explore all of TeachersFirst's resources tagged inventors and inventions for more ideas. 

 

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Design Squad - PBS Kids GO!

Grades
4 to 9
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Are you looking for a new way to get your students excited about science? This neat site is based on the PBS show, Design Squad, but you can easily incorporate ...more
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Are you looking for a new way to get your students excited about science? This neat site is based on the PBS show, Design Squad, but you can easily incorporate the activities and clips from the site without watching the show. There is a full educators guide available (see the Teachers link) with ten engineering and inventive activities. The site also includes video clips, building activities, and interactive (educational) "games." Some of the building activities include "Watercraft," "Hidden Alarm," "Dance Pad Mania," and others. This show also features "real life" challenges that students (or classes) are able to get involved with. This site requires Flash and Adobe Acrobat. You can get both from the TeachersFirst Toolbox page.

tag(s): engineering (128), inventors and inventions (96), sound (105)

In the Classroom

The possibilities at this site are "inventive." Visit the games site to learn about sound and play an interactive "string thing." Have students work in cooperative learning groups to recreate the building activities. Share the video clips (or interactives) on your projector or interactive whiteboard. Have your class complete one of the "real life" challenges together. If you can't do it during the competition months, go back and try one of the past competitions. Document it on a class wiki, then invite next year's class to do it even better by learning from "experience." Before you know it, kids will walk in the first day of school and ask when they get to try the challenge.
  This resource requires Adobe Flash and PDF reader software like Adobe Acrobat.

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Celebrating 100 Years of Flight: Build An Airplane - Scholastic

Grades
3 to 6
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Come to this website to learn more about aerodynamics, the Wright Brothers, directions to create your own airplane, and details about the invention of the airplane. The interactive...more
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Come to this website to learn more about aerodynamics, the Wright Brothers, directions to create your own airplane, and details about the invention of the airplane. The interactive airplane creation activity allows students to choose the wings shape and lift, the type of engine to use to power the aircraft (an aluminum gas-powered engine or a steal steam-powered engine), and how they will control the plane. Then the website tests out the students' choices to see if the aircraft will fly. The site doesn't offer an interactive flight, but rather a picture of the results of their choices. Students have the option to "try again" if their choices do not produce success.

tag(s): air (150), aviation (39), inventors and inventions (96), wright brothers (25)

In the Classroom

This website could be used in a variety of capacities in science and/or social studies. The site offers excellent research information about the Wright brothers and the invention of the airplane. The site would also be useful in a science class learning about flight, steam-powered engines, gas-powered engine, wings shape, lift, and other aviation concepts.

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Digital Vaults - National Archives

Grades
3 to 12
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This site offers digitized National Archives of the U.S. organized according to general category. You can finally explore and share primary source documents interactively through this...more
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This site offers digitized National Archives of the U.S. organized according to general category. You can finally explore and share primary source documents interactively through this Flash site. Start from eight featured topics. For a more in depth look at each subject and its associated categories, click on What's Interesting. A search feature is also available. An added feature at the bottom of the opening page is the "Pathways" tab. Students can participate in a "challenge" (in different levels) to find links between certain historical items. Students can also create their own pathways, writing about connections they find between certain archived items. In another section, students can create their own historical posters and movies from the archives. You can create a collection of items from the archives to retrieve or look at later, as well. This feature requires a free membership created by email address. There are also extensive lesson ideas and information for teachers at the small link, "Educators and Students," at the bottom of the page. Roll your mouse down to find it against the dark background. Note: the entire site is done in Flash (an HTML version is available from a small link at the bottom of the page). Get Flash from the TeachersFirst Toolbox page.

tag(s): inventors and inventions (96), primary sources (93)

In the Classroom

Use this site as an anticipatory set for a unit in history or on inventions. Share a collection of images or invention drawings on a projector or whiteboard and ask what the invention will do. Or use the site as the starting point for individual or group projects. After demonstrating on an interactive whiteboard or projector, have students use laptops or lab computers to "collect" resources related to their assigned inventor, decade, or era in American history. Check your school policy regarding accessing student email. If you plan to have students register individually, you may want to create your own Gmail account with up to 20 subaccounts for each group of students (by code name or number) within your classes. Here is a blog post that tells how to set up GMail subaccounts to use for any online membership service.Students can use their log-ins to collect resources.

Since the documents are in the public domain (are not copyrighted), students may also download and use the files as part of other projects, such as video compilations, Powerpoint presentations, or multimedia of any sort. To access the resources in non-Flash format, click the small link to "research this record in ARC" in the detailed view of the item. You can then view and Save As for use elsewhere. Be sure you teach students about copying the URL and relevant information from this ARC page to cite the source and give credit in any presentation they make. This site is excellent for enrichment or projects for the gifted, as well. Include it on your teacher web page for students to access both in and out of class for students who are working in History Day projects or other assignments for your class.

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Goldburger To Go - PBS

Grades
2 to 8
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For all of you who can't get enough of Rube Goldberg - this site is for you! This website provides a brief biography about Rube Goldberg and numerous ideas ...more
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For all of you who can't get enough of Rube Goldberg - this site is for you! This website provides a brief biography about Rube Goldberg and numerous ideas for creating inventions at home (such as lemon juice rockets, sneaker launchers and food elevators). But the highlight of this website is the interactive challenge "Goldburger To Go." The activity challenges students to design a machine that serves lunch. This activity provides a wealth of scientific information simply by clicking on the "Get a Clue" buttons throughout the activity. This site requires Flash. Get it from the TeachersFirst Toolbox page.. Be sure to check out the teacher's link for additional ideas for teaching inventions and other science topics.

tag(s): inventors and inventions (96), machines (30), simple machines (37)

In the Classroom

Students will truly enjoy this website, get an interactive whiteboard and involve the entire class. This activity provides wonderful enrichment and/or extensions for any unit on inventions, simple machines, or laws of motion.
 This resource requires Adobe Flash.

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MAKE Blog: Technology in your own time - MAKE Magazine Readers and Bloggers

Grades
4 to 12
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Follow the blog entries by hands-on experimenters to find both complicated and simple "inventions" you and your students can build. Entries include photographs that bring them to life....more
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Follow the blog entries by hands-on experimenters to find both complicated and simple "inventions" you and your students can build. Entries include photographs that bring them to life. Many may be more sophisticated than you can do in the classroom, but the blog entries explaining how the builder accomplished the task are terrific examples of scientific method and specific scientific concepts or solutions: sound, electricity, light, robotics, etc. The MAKE blog is also an endless source of ideas for classroom projects or science fair investigations.

tag(s): air (150), engineering (128), gifted (92), inventors and inventions (96), robotics (24)

In the Classroom

Choose an entry each month or at the start of a unit/lesson as a real world application of scientific principles you have been or will be studying. What an anticipatory set or activator! Show it on screen in your classroom or link to it from your teacher web page. You could also use this site as an enrichment challenge for your gifted students as you study a concept. Have them search the blog to find a real world application of the principles you are studying.

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Lighting a Revolution - Smithsonian

Grades
5 to 8
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This online exhibition from the National Museum of American History examines the process of invention, breaking it down into five distinct stages. Enter one of the virtual laboratory...more
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This online exhibition from the National Museum of American History examines the process of invention, breaking it down into five distinct stages. Enter one of the virtual laboratory doors to discover the similarities and differences between Edison's 19th century work on the electric lamp and the development of 20th century lighting devices. The site includes links to materials that explain the science and engineering behind electric lighting and the factors used to determine energy efficiency.

tag(s): electricity (90), inventors and inventions (96)

In the Classroom

Use this resource to frame a student invention unit based on the five stages detailed on the site. Focus the invention process on current or future needs brainstormed by students in class.

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