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  1. #1
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    Default Need ideas for invention project

    Hi - I am wokring with 3rd and 4th graders on an invention unit. I have had the kids create inventions using household/classroom materials, we've researched both historic and contemporary inventors, looked at primary sources including inventor's sketches, notes and patents, and have discussed marketing and advertising as related to invention.

    Now, I want to do a culminating activity where the kids work in groups to invent something that solves a real problem. (When they made inventions before, I let them identify a problem or need. This time around I want them to face the challenge of a specific problem.) I'd like to make it relavent to their lives so I was thinking of having them solve a common classroom problem or something that they deal with regularly at home. But my creativity has escaped me! I am having a hard time coming up with a one or two real problems for the kids to tackle. Any suggestions??

  2. #2
    Super Moderator Boxcar's Avatar
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    Having to have someone get up to turn the lights on and off for movies, projectors, ect.

    Having no way to control the central heating/cooling of the building.

    Having un-comfortable desks.

    Having to write with messy chalk.

    Okay, I'm having a creative blank too... Sorry, I'll think on it for you.

  3. #3
    Super Moderator Boxcar's Avatar
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    What about alternative ways to light and/or power something in the classroom? You know, go green...

    Along those lines, you could bring in clean trash of your choice and ask the students to make something useful.

  4. #4
    Super Moderator hweber's Avatar
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    how about a way to keep pencils sharp?

    how to keep their desks organized

  5. #5
    Super Moderator Boxcar's Avatar
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    Another could be about how to keep everyone in the class from getting sick so often...

  6. #6
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    When I did my wind unit, we did a t-chart with machines that used non-renewable energy and machines that used wind, and as a final project, the kids had to re-design a machine that uses non-renewable energy to use wind. It didn't ACTUALLY have to work, but it had to show that they knew a bit about how wind is used as a power source.

    Here's my Simple Machines culminating task. I think it's a bit "frivolous" for what you're looking for, but if it suits you, feel free to use it. I did both of these design projects with grade 2's, btw.

    BUILDING PROJECT

    Due Monday June 2
    Below are three problems. Choose one and invent a machine that can solve the problem. Your machine must include at least 3 simple machines that we have studied. The simple machines we have studied are pulley, gear, wedge, inclined plane, wheel and axle, and lever. You must hand in your plan and present your machine model. You must be able to explain what simple machines you used, and WHY you chose them. Note: all machines must be able to be operated manually (that means no motors, no batteries, no gas power or electric power).

    Steps:
    1. Choose a problem.
    2. Read the problem carefully to find out what your machine has to do. Does it have to lift? Throw? Move over land?
    3. Make a plan. Use words, pictures, or both, to plan out what materials you will need and what simple machines you will use.
    4. Build a model of your machine.
    5. Test and change your model to make it even better.

    Problem 1:
    You are a pioneer. You have been given a wonderful, big field to plant your crops in, but it is FULL of tree stumps. The roots of the stumps spread out very far and go very deep. You cannot just dig the stumps out -- it is too much work! Invent a machine that will make the work of pulling out stumps easier.

    (parents: there is a historical machine that may give some ideas. You may want to look up pioneer stump pullers. HOWEVER, to include 3 simple machines, some modifications may have to be made).

    Problem 2:
    You are a pirate. You have a lot of buried treasure, and you want to move it to a safer spot. Right now, it is buried deep in the sand on a deserted island. Your problem is that the treasure is too heavy for you to lift and move by yourself, and you don't want ANYONE else to know where your treasure is buried! Invent a machine that can help you lift the treasure up out of the hole and carry it to your new spot to bury it.

    Problem 3:
    You are a king, and a black night has taken over your castle and kicked you out! You built your castle very well. It has a drawbridge that the Knight pulled up and a high, sturdy wall that can't be climbed. Ladders won't work because there is a moat right outside of the wall so there is no place to put a ladder. Invent a machine that will allow you to get over the wall.

    (parents: There is a historical solution to problems like this one. Though the trebuchet was not built to get over a wall so much as to break down a wall, it may give some good ideas about what sort of thing your child could build. )

  7. #7
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    What about something to keep you from losing remote controls in the couch?

  8. #8
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    some way to find lost wallets and/or keys, like a beeper on a portable phone?

    an automatic cat feeder that the cat can work himself at 4am instead of waking me up?

    something to get stuff unstuck when it's stuck in a garbage or laundry chute?

    a dust jacket for books that doesn't ultimately get ripped up and cruddy-looking?

    a way to display books face-out that doesn't take up the whole classroom?

    I could go on...I LOVE science projects!!!

  9. #9
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    ooo---a whiteboard marker that DOESN'T DRY OUT.

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