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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Smithsonian Learning Lab - The Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access

Grades
4 to 12
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Discover, create, and share digital resources from the Smithsonian Museum, the National Zoo, and nine major research centers with this visually appealing site. Use the search feature...more
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Discover, create, and share digital resources from the Smithsonian Museum, the National Zoo, and nine major research centers with this visually appealing site. Use the search feature to find digital resources including photos, recordings, videos, and text. Sign up to create your own collections, including those found on the site and your own resources. Add annotations and develop quizzes. Easily share your creations or curated collections using social networking links provided. If your district blocks YouTube, the videos may not be viewable. You could always view them at home and bring them to class "on a stick" to share. Use a tool such as KeepVid, reviewed here, to download the videos from YouTube.

tag(s): animals (290), architecture (85), art history (72), aviation (39), black history (62), civil war (145), dinosaurs (57), explorers (65), images (275), inventors and inventions (95), scientists (70)

In the Classroom

The Smithsonian Learning Lab is a must-add to your list of classroom bookmarks! Search for collections and information throughout the year on all topics. Add a link to classroom computers for the entire site or specific collections. Be sure to take advantage of the many features of this site to create customized collections, then have students add additional resources. Have students create quizzes for review of topics. Challenge students to create a simple infographic sharing their findings using Easel.ly, reviewed here.

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Patent Office KIDS! - US Patent Office

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3 to 12
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Visit the redesigned Patent Office KIDS! web pages featuring young inventor profiles, new activities, and videos. Find contests, links, videos, and more to help kids of all ages learn...more
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Visit the redesigned Patent Office KIDS! web pages featuring young inventor profiles, new activities, and videos. Find contests, links, videos, and more to help kids of all ages learn about trademarks and patents, and the importance of intellectual property creation and protection. The invention and design focus of most of the activities makes for perfect STEM and "maker space" lessons. If your district blocks YouTube, the videos may not be viewable. You could always view them at home and bring them to class "on a stick" to share. Use a tool such as KeepVid, reviewed here, to download the videos from YouTube.

tag(s): crafts (43), digital citizenship (65), inventors and inventions (95), snow (22), sound (105), sports (98), STEM (151), video (274)

In the Classroom

Whether an elementary, middle, or high school teacher you'll find lesson plans for building model rockets, a mechanical grasper, how sound travels, and more. Use an interactive whiteboard or projector and start by viewing the video on the home page titled Extraordinary Innovations; there is a thorough lesson plan with a cool extension that includes ideas for creating a new toy or piece of sports equipment based on a favorite. The lesson plan extension has students create a timeline for the invention of the snowboard. Why not make this an interactive timeline with music, photos, videos, and more using Capzles, reviewed here?
 This resource requires PDF reader software like Adobe Acrobat.

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Highbrow - Artem Zavyalov & Jane Limanskaya

Grades
7 to 12
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Learn something new each day with Highbrow's unique course delivery system. Sign up for a course, then receive an email each day with a five to ten-minute lesson. Each course ...more
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Learn something new each day with Highbrow's unique course delivery system. Sign up for a course, then receive an email each day with a five to ten-minute lesson. Each course is completed in ten days making learning quick and easy! Choose from many different course options in subjects such as art, literature, and history. Highbrow only allows one course per user at a time to encourage complete focus on each topic. If you don't see what you like, choose the Create Course option and create your own learning experience using your expertise!

tag(s): 20th century (53), architecture (85), authors (121), business (58), differentiation (50), endangered species (39), equations (153), financial literacy (80), greeks (30), human body (126), inventors and inventions (95), logic (239), medicine (70), mental math (29), numbers (200), photography (162), poetry (224), psychology (65), short stories (24), surrealism (4), weather (194), women (92)

In the Classroom

Highbrow is perfect for differentiated learning. Allow students to choose their own topic and sign up for a course. When complete, choose another topic and start a new course. Have students create commercials for finished courses using Powtoon, reviewed here, and share them using a tool such as TeacherTube, reviewed here. Challenge students to create a course after a unit of study as a final assessment. Be sure to include this site on your class webpage for students to access both in and outside of class for personal use.

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Inventor's Workshop - The Museum of Science

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6 to 12
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Explore an Inventor's Workshop through the eyes of Leonardo da Vinci. Choose from different parts of the toolbox to discover elements of machines, gadget anatomy, and play Leonardo's...more
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Explore an Inventor's Workshop through the eyes of Leonardo da Vinci. Choose from different parts of the toolbox to discover elements of machines, gadget anatomy, and play Leonardo's Mysterious Machinery. Other portions of the workshop take viewers deeper into the world of Leonardo by providing perspective on Renaissance times, exploring his special way of writing, and discovering Leonardo's activities in different Italian cities.

tag(s): artists (76), inventors and inventions (95), italy (16), leonardo davinci (4), renaissance (35)

In the Classroom

This site is perfect for use on your interactive whiteboard. Explore the different portions together during your studies of the Renaissance, inventors, or artists such as Leonardo da Vinci. Share a link to this site on your class webpage for students to explore at home, or add a link on classroom computers for use during computer centers. Have students use Fakebook, reviewed here, to create a "fake" page similar in style to Facebook about Leonardo da Vinci or other Renaissance artists.

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Science of Innovation - NBC Learn

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5 to 12
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Explore the Science of Innovation with this series of seventeen videos provided by NBC Learn. Each video looks at different innovations such as bionic limbs or 3-D printing. All videos...more
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Explore the Science of Innovation with this series of seventeen videos provided by NBC Learn. Each video looks at different innovations such as bionic limbs or 3-D printing. All videos run about five minutes in length and include a written transcript and lesson ideas. Lesson ideas include handouts, collaborative inquiry activities, and assessment rubrics.
This site includes advertising.

tag(s): energy (203), human body (126), inventors and inventions (95)

In the Classroom

Although part of a larger pay for use site, this portion of the site is free. Use this site as an anticipatory set or "activator" to introduce a unit or lesson on a projector or interactive whiteboard. Use this site as the starting point for individual or group projects. Take advantage of the free lesson plan and incorporate suggestions into your current units. Have students brainstorm or collect ideas on other innovative ideas on a collaborative bulletin board like Scrumblr, reviewed here (quick start- no membership required!).
 This resource requires Adobe Flash.

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The Creators Project - Voice Media

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5 to 12
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Science becomes creative at The Creators Project. As they describe themselves, "The Creators Project is a global network dedicated to the celebration of creativity, arts and technology."...more
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Science becomes creative at The Creators Project. As they describe themselves, "The Creators Project is a global network dedicated to the celebration of creativity, arts and technology." Find fascinating works of art and functional inventions that use unusual materials, clever design, and unique applications of science and engineering. New posts appear regularly, featuring collections, exhibitions, or featured inventions. Watch videos or read text posts with images of such things as a $30,000 dog house, "fossilized" books as sculpture, or a motion-activated keyboard. Browse the latest features with links to related posts. Click tags at the end of a post to find related ideas, or search for a specific word to explore past posts. A few of the ads are annoying, but hitting refresh makes them change.
This site includes advertising.

tag(s): creativity (118), engineering (127), inventors and inventions (95), STEM (151)

In the Classroom

Turn STEM into STEAM in your science, math, or art class. This project is perfect for convincing students that science is neither boring nor unimaginative! Lure your artistic students into science and your pragmatic scientists into creativity. This project fits well with any Maker Movement activities you may do in your school. Share a feature or two each week in your science class and ask students what science concepts the creator had to use to achieve that design. Ask what problems he/she might have faced in creating it. Ask why it appeals to people (function? visual design?) Challenge student groups to choose a design or invention on this site and analyze the physics behind it. How/why does it work? What simple machines do they see within it? Why did they use those materials? Have them share their findings (or hypotheses) in a multimedia presentation or wiki page, sort of an "invention unwrapped." Teachers of gifted or science club sponsors can find loads of project inspiration at this site. Share it during a career unit for students to investigate creative ways to use science and design in a future career. Have them research the people behind an invention or art piece they particularly enjoy.

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Story of the Web - Jack Schofield

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5 to 12
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Celebrate 25 years of the World Wide Web with this retrospective in interactive form. Scroll through to read about the first ideas and learn about the explosive growth and important...more
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Celebrate 25 years of the World Wide Web with this retrospective in interactive form. Scroll through to read about the first ideas and learn about the explosive growth and important events throughout the years. Choose auto-play to watch the timeline unfold or scroll at your own pace. As you progress through the story, watch for links to web stories. Viewers of the site share their personal memories each step along the way. Hover your mouse over the right side of your screen to link to the entire report in PDF format.

tag(s): computers (92), internet safety (108), inventors and inventions (95)

In the Classroom

Story of the Web is perfect for use on your interactive whiteboard or projector in a unit on technology and invention or in a computer literacy class. Share this site with students who have grown up on the Internet to provide an understanding of how quickly technology has developed. Compare it to the development of a human being over 25 years! Have students create a simple infographic sharing their findings using Easel.ly, reviewed here or Venngage reviewed here. Use an online tool such as Interactive Two Circle Venn Diagram (reviewed here) comparing communication 25 years ago to the present.
 This resource requires PDF reader software like Adobe Acrobat.

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The Wright Experience - The Wright Experience

Grades
5 to 12
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The Wright Experience lets you rediscover the innovation and designs of the Wright brothers. Follow the steps in analyzing photographs, making designs, and running tests to make an...more
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The Wright Experience lets you rediscover the innovation and designs of the Wright brothers. Follow the steps in analyzing photographs, making designs, and running tests to make an actual life sized reproduction of the Wright kites, airplanes, and gliders. In every model, find the design, assembly, control, and flight tests. Follow wind tunnel testing to analyze flight performance and see the reinvention of the Wright Brother's works. Explore the different parts of Orville and Wilbur's planes. The education area features videos showing testing or flights. Find links to many other useful sites. Find the latest news about any flight re-creations. If your district blocks YouTube, they may not be viewable. You could always view the videos at home and bring them to class "on a stick" to share. Use a tool such as KeepVid reviewed here to download the videos from YouTube.

tag(s): flight (36), inventors and inventions (95), wright brothers (25)

In the Classroom

Bring the spirit of invention alive in your classroom. Follow the process, from the earlier designs through each later design, each building upon its predecessor. Discover the many types of testing done to determine limits for each problem. The videos of flight will bring your class on board with Wilbur or Orville! Share the videos on your projector (or interactive whiteboard). Discover the steps to the scientific method or design process to apply in other projects. Include this project in a study of leadership or as a lesson in the perseverance of innovation! Use it as an introduction to your Discovery Fair or Science Night.
  This resource requires Adobe Flash and PDF reader software like Adobe Acrobat.

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Pencil Inventions - Duen Hsi Yen

Grades
4 to 12
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Inspire creativity and the inventive spirit through this activity challenging students to invent a new pencil. Begin with a pencil that needs improvement to gather ideas for making...more
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Inspire creativity and the inventive spirit through this activity challenging students to invent a new pencil. Begin with a pencil that needs improvement to gather ideas for making a better pencil as you explore the creative thought processes and critical thinking skills involved in designing new projects. Although very simple in concept, this site offers simple instructions for looking at everyday objects and the process involved in improving them. This is the Maker Movement in a very simple form!

tag(s): creativity (118), gifted (94), inventors and inventions (95)

In the Classroom

Explore Pencil Inventions on your interactive whiteboard with your class as you discuss inventors and inventions. Have students brainstorm or collect ideas on a collaborative bulletin board like Scrumblr, reviewed here (quick start- no membership required!) Challenge cooperative groups to create their own invention then upload a photo they have taken and add voice bubbles to explain what they created using a tool such as Superlame, reviewed here. This is a great activity for gifted students, to help them "think outside the box." What other items (besides a pencil) could you use for the same sort of activity in your classroom to encourage creative fluency and flexibility?

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Fantastic Contraption - KONGREGATE

Grades
1 to 12
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Test out your logic, mechanical understanding, and creativity as you create amazing 2D contraptions! Each contraption uses wheels, wooden stationary logs, and power moving water rods...more
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Test out your logic, mechanical understanding, and creativity as you create amazing 2D contraptions! Each contraption uses wheels, wooden stationary logs, and power moving water rods to create a moving vehicle to push a target to the goal. Get a taste of the challenge by trying your hand at the introduction activity. Then begin your regular contraption. Each level adds more challenge. Use the delete button, and try again until you succeed. Registration is not required to use this site. However, more options are available if you register (FREE). As you progress through a level, earn points and badges. Save your designs and send your best designs to your friends using a specific url. You can turn off the (rather annoying) music by clicking the speaker icon.
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tag(s): creativity (118), energy (203), gifted (94), inventors and inventions (95), logic (239), machines (30), motion (61), problem solving (274), STEM (151)

In the Classroom

In the classroom, develop logic, perseverance, and creativity for your gifted and high achieving students. These activities could be used with all learning levels. Use this activity as part of a unit on inventions or as a lead in to a Maker's Faire. Introduce this activity on your interactive whiteboard or projector and you will have all students hooked! Your ESL/ELL students and weaker readers will be on equal footing with their peers since this site requires very little reading after the introduction. Capture the attention of your students by gamifying science and logic. Continue with class discussions of movement, energy, logic, and strategy. Use as a stepping stone to begin a unit on geometry, energy, or motion. In elementary science classes, include this activity for students who have mastered required curriculum to go beyond the basics of simple machines and motion. Have students add a written explanation of the contraption to take sequencing to a new level. (A screenshot would help them illustrate their writing.) After drawing a scaled model, create the contraption using real objects. Discover the types of energy and movement that are in the model. Organize a contraption competition. Share this link on your class website for students (and their parents) to "tinker" with at home.
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Community Science Workshop Network - Community Initiatives

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K to 12
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Bring science to life with this free community of Science Workshop ideas. The site may not look exciting, but the activities bring real hands-on learning to science. Browse a few ...more
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Bring science to life with this free community of Science Workshop ideas. The site may not look exciting, but the activities bring real hands-on learning to science. Browse a few activities to get the idea. After registering, click on the CSW Projects and Activities tab. Search the activities by project type (e.g. projectiles, music, woodshop) or by STEM content. Workshop ideas are either video or downloaded instructions with images. Most use simple, inexpensive materials.

tag(s): engineering (127), gravity (50), inventors and inventions (95), musical instruments (47), plants (155), sound (105), STEM (151)

In the Classroom

Use these activities to create contraptions for students to manipulate in class. As students use a manipulative, collect their questions about what they observe or wonder about the contraption's motion and characteristics. Students can research the science behind the object or motion. Use class discussion to create understanding about basic scientific principles. Be sure to include a link to this site on your classroom computer or website. Students can use these activities to teach concepts to other students in their class. Many of these activities make great demonstrations as an introduction to a science concept and for uncovering student misconceptions. Expand what you ask students to do by using creative writing, reading, creating Infographics, or learning correct ways to research and report findings about the subject matter.

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GE Focus Forward - GE & Cinelan.com

Grades
6 to 12
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GE Focus Forward offers a series of 30 three-minute videos featuring stories about innovators. Directed by award-winning documentary film makers, the films range in topics from a "Journey...more
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GE Focus Forward offers a series of 30 three-minute videos featuring stories about innovators. Directed by award-winning documentary film makers, the films range in topics from a "Journey Under the Sea" to a look at the "Secrets of Trees." Hover over any film icon to view a short description of the topic. Click to begin. Share films using social networking buttons within the film. Copy the embed code to embed on any website or blog. Videos are hosted on Vimeo, which is accessible in most schools.

tag(s): environment (321), inventors and inventions (95), medicine (70), mental health (27), nutrition (158), oceans (154), robotics (24), solar energy (40), STEM (151), trees (30), video (274)

In the Classroom

Use this site as an anticipatory set or "activator" to introduce a unit or lesson on a projector or interactive whiteboard. Have students explore this site independently or in small groups. There is one film about sanitation that refers to "poop," so you may want to avoid classroom giggles from less mature students by setting the tone for scientific viewing. Use as any part of a career unit, as a look at explorers and innovators, or when discussing character education. Be sure to include this site on your class web page for students to access both in and outside of class for further practice. Challenge students to choose a topic to further explore and create a multimedia presentation using one of the many TeachersFirst Edge tools reviewed here.

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SySTEM Alert - Pitsco Education

Grades
6 to 12
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This free publication provides relevance and shows the value of STEM material students learn in class and its importance to our present and future lives. The newsletter showcases articles...more
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This free publication provides relevance and shows the value of STEM material students learn in class and its importance to our present and future lives. The newsletter showcases articles about content and inventions that interest those at any age. By focusing on articles written about and by inventors and scientists, the human side of STEM shows the passion and inventiveness that underlie current knowledge and technology advancements. There are activities to complete, video clips to view, and much information to learn. Do you want to learn how to design a robot? Look no further than the February 2013 issue of this publication. Archived publications are available back to Fall 2012.
This site includes advertising.

tag(s): inventors and inventions (95), scientific method (67), scientists (70), STEM (151)

In the Classroom

Use these newsletters to show students how their lives are connected to STEM achievements. Students can read and comment on specific articles or careers. Use a variety of these PDF's when researching various STEM careers or highlighting inventions and discoveries. Students can create a traditional or multimedia report on the information learned.
 This resource requires PDF reader software like Adobe Acrobat.

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Great Inventions, Great Inventors - edinformatics.com

Grades
4 to 12
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Find an extensive list of great inventions on this straightforward site. The "look" is simple, but the information useful. Click each invention to view information on its invention,...more
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Find an extensive list of great inventions on this straightforward site. The "look" is simple, but the information useful. Click each invention to view information on its invention, the inventor, and other related information including links to other topics. Note that ads do appear on these pages. Caution students to avoid them.

tag(s): inventors and inventions (95)

In the Classroom

Find information for science and technology reports on this site. Allow students to view the dates of many of the inventions to determine what scientific principle was just known to push technological thinking. Create a timeline of inventions to determine the impact of science, economy, and society on inventions. Use a site such as TimeRime reviewed here. Choose an invention and research other forms of that model, alternatives before and after, and what we are using today. Discuss environmental impacts, how the invention changed society, and other impacts.
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The Wilbur and Orville Wright Papers - Library of Congress

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6 to 12
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The Library of Congress offers this collection of photographs, letters, and other documents related to the lives of aviation pioneers Wilbur and Orville Wright. Images and documents...more
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The Library of Congress offers this collection of photographs, letters, and other documents related to the lives of aviation pioneers Wilbur and Orville Wright. Images and documents in the archive provide primary sources on the history of flight. The archive is easy to navigate and includes a timeline of the brothers' lives, a family tree hyperlinked to relevant documents, and the expected photographs of Wilbur and Orville and their flying machines. Of special interest to many would be the story of the brothers' early failed enterprises, demonstrating that even famous inventors fail before finding success, as well as the many letters between the Wrights and other well known people of the time such as Amelia Earhart and Charles Lindbergh.

tag(s): aviation (39), flight (36), inventors and inventions (95), wright brothers (25)

In the Classroom

Students doing research on the Wright brothers will find this site invaluable. Have students work in cooperative learning groups and research a specific topic found at this site. Challenge students to create a multimedia presentation. Have students use a tool such as Woices (beta) (reviewed here). This site allows students to create audio recordings AND choose a location (on a map) where the story takes place.

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The 50 Worst Inventions - Time Magazine

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4 to 12
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We all know inventions that have changed and improved the world, but what are some of the worst ideas that just never worked out? Time Magazine offers their insight into ...more
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We all know inventions that have changed and improved the world, but what are some of the worst ideas that just never worked out? Time Magazine offers their insight into the 50 worst inventions. This slideshow takes the viewer through some ideas that never got off the ground or never found their way into America's heart - popup ads, Snuggie for dogs, pay toilets, NEW Coke, and more all hold a spot on the top 50. The slideshow can be viewed screen by screen, or the viewer can see the entire list.

tag(s): inventors and inventions (95)

In the Classroom

Challenge students to create a list of useless inventions or to invent one of their own. Display the slide show on your interactive whiteboard or projector and discuss if students agree with a product's placement on the list. Generate a list of characteristics that would keep an invention OFF this list! Have students create commercials advertising their new product (or the one they researched). Challenge students to create a video commercial and share using a site such as SchoolTube (reviewed here). Write letters to the product's inventor to find out their feelings about being included on the list.

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Inventors and Their Inventions - Time Magazine

Grades
4 to 12
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Time Magazine presents 9 current inventors and their inventions. These little known inventors have created items that are familiar to many of us today - items include the sticky note...more
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Time Magazine presents 9 current inventors and their inventions. These little known inventors have created items that are familiar to many of us today - items include the sticky note (Post-It), a pizza box with perforated sections for plates, and a huggable pacifier. This slideshow is easy to use. Just click on the next button after each slide to find the next inventor.

tag(s): inventors and inventions (95)

In the Classroom

After presenting the slideshow on your interactive whiteboard or projector, ask students to create their own list of modern inventions that are in general use. Students can then research their inventors and how the invention came about. Have a "Create an Invention" Day where students design and build their own invention that would make their lives easier. Have students share their inventions and how they work on video. Share the videos using a site such as SchoolTube (reviewed here). Another possibility is to include this slideshow in your study of the Industrial Revolution. Share TeachersFirst's interactive introduction to Inventors of the Industrial Revolution, and ask students to compare the circumstances around successful inventions today vs then.

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Gajitz Science - Gajitz

Grades
6 to 12
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See remarkable and astounding scientific discoveries and inventions on this amazing site. Categories of science include Earth and Nature, Energy and Power, Medical Marvels, New Materials,...more
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See remarkable and astounding scientific discoveries and inventions on this amazing site. Categories of science include Earth and Nature, Energy and Power, Medical Marvels, New Materials, Quantum Leaps, Space and Time, Science Fiction, and Weird Science. Young scientists will be amazed, engineers inspired, and even the disinterested will find accomplishments to make them curious. Even middle school girls will find something that they like about science on this site. There is some advertising, but the science images and information outweigh it.

tag(s): cells (104), engineering (127), inventors and inventions (95), medicine (70)

In the Classroom

Share selected discoveries or a science-in-real-life scenario at least weekly on a projector or interactive whiteboard. Watch the site for real world examples of your current unit or award extra credit to students who lurk on this site to find such connections. Just as your social studies colleagues assign students to write up a current event each week, you can assign students to write a blog post or brief explanation of a recent find on your class wiki. Be sure to include this link on your class web page for students to access both in and out of class, and be sure to include it in your emergency sub plans for students to find and explain an accomplishment of a real scientist found here. If you do a unit on science careers, this is a definite source for student projects. Why not have students create an interactive infographic using a tool like Genial.ly, reviewed here, on a branch of science that interests them after exploring this site?

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The Inventor's Workshop - Learning Science Network

Grades
3 to 8
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This site offers concise, grade level reading about Leonardo Da Vinci, the inventor and scientist as well as basics on simple machines. Although not overly interactive, the site offers...more
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This site offers concise, grade level reading about Leonardo Da Vinci, the inventor and scientist as well as basics on simple machines. Although not overly interactive, the site offers links to larger vocabulary words, a quiz on Gadget Anatomy and Leonardo's Mysterious Machines; a game using Da Vinci's sketches. Also included in the site are lesson plans for having students sketch and build their own inventions.

tag(s): inventors and inventions (95), machines (30), simple machines (38)

In the Classroom

Use this site when teaching about Da Vinci, during an invention unit, a science unit on simple machines, and more. Share the identification quiz on your interactive whiteboard or projector as practice and review prior to testing on the concept of simple machines.

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