Public Science Day 2000:
The Science of
Everyday Things

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Inventions

Background

Preparation for this project

Since this was a collaborative project, teachers from all three schools worked together for three days prior to the start of the school year. Utilizing the theme of Inventions and the Science of Everyday Things, and realizing that technology would be utilized as a learning tool, they identified a variety of on-line resources. In their groups they planned specific units meeting grade level and state curriculum standards in science and language arts.

Project details

The project has involved students in the on-line research of inventions and the science that has made them possible. The research itself evolved from student interest in learning about the things around them, since teacher planning was broad rather than specific with this purpose in mind. Hands-on activities were a major focus in addition to the technology. These activities involved the construction and demonstration of simple machines, which led students to the application of scientific principles.

Teachers and students have made use of community resources by having local scientists visit their classrooms. One such class was learning about energy and inquiring about how energy can be used in innovative ways. A nuclear physicist from the Turkey Point Power Plant in Florida visited their classroom and they have now been invited to visit Turkey Point. Those classrooms that focused on inventions related to transportation have plans to visit the Homestead Motorsport Complex and the Homestead Air Station.(Look for pictures in our final scrapbook).

Science content

Scientific principles involving aerodynamics, propulsion, structures and materials, stability and control have been explored through hands-on design challenges in creating inventions. Acting as scientists and attempting to solve problems identified through on-line resources, such as the depletion of natural resources due to transportation, students have applied the scientific method of inquiry and developed theories of possible solutions. In exploring concepts related to physical science, students have sought to answer questions such as, "how do very large ships stay afloat on water?' They have designed watercraft that they have tested for maximum buoyancy as various weights are applied. Student participation in the interactive exhibit of high wire acts and feats of balance will provide further exploration of balance and gravity.

Why Inventions?

Creating units on inventions is equivalent to designing a unit based on inventive thinking. This type of approach is limited only by the imagination of teachers and students. Although some teachers might say that with such limited time, why bother inventing? Research has shown and as stated in The New Hampshire Young Inventors' Program, Meant to Invent, inventing will:

  • enhance self-image
  • stimulate and foster creativity
  • relate the scientific method to real life
  • fire up the inventive spirit in our culture
  • develop the essential skills of logical thinking, creative problem solving, intellectual risk-taking, and
  • communication

By creating inventions students will:

  • solve actual problems
  • develop higher-level thinking skills
  • use creative and critical thinking skills
  • use library and other research skills
  • experience success and increased self-esteem
  • learn to document the inventive-thinking process
  • produce an original invention