Teaching kids about inventions and inventors

by Mary Ann on October 25, 2011

kids with their rocket propelled robot invention

Our super-dooper rocket propelled robot

I found the most amazing book at the library!!! I happened across it quite accidentally. It was about Leonardo daVinci and the amazing visions that he had in his life time. But that wasn’t all. It showed how, in time, all of his inventive ideas were actually created by other people and who those people were. Oh my gosh, I wanted to teach my grandchildren about this.

However, it was a book with a lot of words and probably over their heads. I stewed on what to do for a few days. Then my daughter suggested that I teach them what an invention is. Voila, what a perfect solution to my dilemma. So that is what I did.

creation box picture

The Creation Box

We had so darn much fun and one slight owie. : ) I took my creation box for the Traveling Closet this week. If you aren’t familiar with that here is the description. It is a cardboard box that I collect junk in: plastic ware, Styrofoam cups, old keys, buttons, wiggly eyes, toilet paper tubes, paper towel tubes, paper clips, popsicle sticks, washers, Styrofoam balls and cones, yarn, whatever comes my way that would otherwise be thrown out.

I began the day by asking Jack if he knew what an invention was. He said he thought it was a place to go. I told them that an invention was an idea in someone’s head that they turned into something real. I suggested that we look at some inventions to get an idea about what they are. Then we looked at the wonderful book about Leonardo daVinci.

I thought that they would be bored because it is a bit over their heads, however, they loved it! We looked at the old drawing and how the actual invention looked. We talked about the fact that Leonardo only had people making things go but that the real inventions used electricity and motors.

kids reading books about inventions

Interested in inventions

We looked at pictures of old TV sets and Philo Farnsworth who invented the TV. Jack and Maggie couldn’t believe how different they look today and Jack was enthralled with the name Philo.

We looked at a book about the Day-Glo brothers and the brilliant paint colors they invented.

The children were very excited about all these wonderful inventions. Then I asked them if they would like to make an invention. Oh my, they were excited. However they didn’t know how to do it. So we talked about all the items scattered on the table and just started putting them together. I had brought the hot glue gun with me because I knew as little as they are that regular glue wouldn’t work. When you use a glue gun it is tough to make it safe. Jack reach out to touch something that still had pretty warm glue on it. He wasn’t burned much but was an unhappy camper. Hot glue is a bit dicey with really little people; hard to be careful enough.

kid who touched hot glue

Can't be too careful with hot glue!

We blew up the balloons first because, of course, they really wanted the balloons. As we went along we decided we were making a robot. Notice the eye and the teeth (the safety plug)

kid making robot picture

Mary loved the balloons best

The best part of the day was when the light went on in Jack’s brain. He saw the Styrofoam cone and a long tube. He put the cone on top of the tube and realized that he had made a rocket. He was so excited about his own “all alone” invention.

kid with rocket invention

Jack's "all alone" invention

Then we glued the rocket to our robot and we had a rocket powered robot. It really was a fun learning day and Jack, Maggie and maybe even Mary will remember what an invention is and that there are so many of them.

If you have older children then it would be a wonderful thing to do this project and then study one new inventor each week or month for the whole year. You would never run out and there are all kinds of experiments, projects and crafts that you can do to demonstrate and mimic what the inventors did.

Books about inventions for kids:

The Day-Glo Brothers by Chris Barton
Neo Leo by Gene Barretta
The boy who Invented TV by Kathleen Krull
So You want to be an Inventor? By Judith St. George – A wonderful book about the traits of inventors, some of which aren’t valued, like daydreaming. : )
Now & Ben: The Modern Inventions of Benjamin Franklin by Gene Barretta
The Kid Who Invented the Popsicle: And Other Surprising Stories about Inventions by Don L. Wulffson
Brainstorm!: The Stories of Twenty American Kid Inventors by Tom Tucker
Kids Inventing! A Handbook for Young Inventors by Susan Casey
Girls Think of Everything: Stories of Ingenious Inventions by Women by Catherine Thimmesh
The Kids’ Invention Book (Kids’ Ventures) by Arlene Erlbach

DVD’s on Leonardo daVinci:
Leonardo’s Dream Machines PBS Home Video, 2005
The Life of Leonardo daVinci: The Most Brilliant Mind in History Chicago: 2003
Modern Marvels: DaVinci Tech The History Channel, 2005

On-Line videos of kid’s inventions:
A girls invention group
A fun invention-this is absolutely hysterical!!!
Great inventions by grade school age children

Inventions made by kids:

Allan Chu is 17 years old and he has just invented a way to speed up the Internet! He was tired of how slow it can be so he took matters into his own hands. He invented an algorithm which will compress data and allow information over the internet to be presented to you much more quickly. An algorithm is a step by step mathematical procedure that solves a problem especially by a computer. Allan entered a math, science and technology competition and won first place and $3,000! Quite an accomplishment for such a young person!

If you have ever thought about inventing something yourself, you don’t need to be a math and science genius to devise something clever. Have you ever heard of a Popsicle? Well, in 1905 an 11-year-old boy named Frank Epperson invented it. He accidentally left his favorite fruit drink with a stirrer in it outside on the porch overnight. When he awoke, the drink was frozen and he found a new delicious treat. He went on to patent his idea and is the creator of the Popsicle, Fudgsicle, Creamsicle and Dreamsicle!

How about Chester Greenwood? In 1858 at the age of 15, he was ice skating and kept getting irritated at how cold his ears got. He tried wrapping his head in a scarf but that probed to be too bulky and itchy. He went home and fashioned 2 ear shaped loops from wire and asked his grandmother to sew some fur on the loops. These became the first ear muffs which he patented and ended up making a fortune on his invention by supplying the US soldiers with ear muffs during World War I.
From http://www.chevroncars.com/learn/odds-ends/inventions-kids

Want to see some other cool inventions, take a look.

cool invention pictures

I really like this invention! Makes me want to drink some lemonade!

Some very clever inventions

Possibly Related Posts:

{ 0 comments… add one now }

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: