Ansberry, Karen, Morgan, Emily, Science and Children
Byline: Karen Ansberry, Emily Morgan
In today's fast-growing, highly competitive global marketplace, innovative thinking is more important than ever. Encourage your students' creativity, imagination, and problem-solving skills with these technological design activities. Technology involves using science to solve problems or meet needs, and the understanding of technology can be developed by challenging students to design a solution to solve a problem or invent something to meet a need. Inventions don't have to be entirely new ideas. Sometimes they can be improvements to existing inventions. In this month's column, students in grades K-3 improve inventions, while students in grades 4-6 tackle design challenges.
This Month's Trade Books
Imaginative Inventions By Cherise Mericle Harper. Little, Brown. 2001. ISBN 0316347256. Grades K-4
This witty and informative look at the origins of familiar inventions makes a terrific introduction to the invention process. Find out the who, what, when, where, and why of roller skates, piggy banks, potato chips, Frisbees, and more through clever verses and whimsical illustrations. Each of the 14 featured inventions is covered in a double-page spread with fun facts inset along a border.
Professor Aesop's The Crow and the Pitcher By Stephanie Gwyn Brown. Tricycle Press. 2003. ISBN 1582460876. Grades K-4
Based upon one of Aesop's classic fables, this clever tale features a quick-witted crow trying to get a drink of water from a nearly-empty pitcher. After several comic attempts, Crow uses the scientific method to solve his problem: start out with a question, gather up the facts, form a hypothesis, tackle the experiment, review the results, and finally, "be a true scientist and share it with the rest." Vivid artwork, scientific blueprints, and humorous touches, such as a "thirst-o- meter" and a "pebble indicator" appear throughout.
The design process in technology is the parallel to inquiry in science. In scientific inquiry, students explore ideas and propose explanations about the natural world, whereas in technological design students identify a problem or need, design a solution, implement a solution, evaluate a product or design, and communicate the design process. The principles of design for grades 5-8 do not change from grades K-4, but the problems addressed should become more complex. In grades K-4, the Standards suggest studying familiar inventions to determine function and to identify problems solved, materials used, and how well the product does what it is supposed to do. Explorations of common inventions are featured in this month's trade book-inspired investigations for grades K-3. In the older grades, students can begin to differentiate between science and technology by complementing their scientific investigations with activities that are meant to meet a human need, solve a problem, or develop a product. Design challenges at this level should cover a range of needs, materials, and aspects of science. A variety of engaging design challenges are featured in this month's trade book-inspired investigations for grades 4-6.
For Grades K-3: Improve an Invention
Explore the topic of Inventions/Inventors
Engage: Introduce the author and illustrator of Imaginative Inventions. Build connections to the author by reading the inside flap of the book about Cherise Mericle Harper's favorite invention ("...muffins, which taste a lot like cake, but you get to eat them for breakfast!"). Select several of the inventions to read about. As you read each two-page spread, leave out the name of the invention and instead say "this invention." Have students make inferences about the identity of each invention using clues from the text and illustrations. After reading each poem, reveal the name of the invention and then have students identify the need or want in each situation. …