Dr. Bob Valiant

Children are great inventors. They have not developed the inhibitions that restrict many of us from exploring far-out ideas and novel solutions. The trick is to come up with ideas for what to invent and then to organize for possible solutions. Here are some ideas for the teacher and for the students to come up with some exciting new inventions.

Identify some of the problems the children encounter during their day:
When they first get up
At breakfast
Getting to school
At school
In class
At recess
At lunch
Getting home
At supper
In the neighborhood
Homework time
Getting ready for bed

List the problems on the board or on chart paper as they are generated.

From the list, pick four or five problems that can be the focus for inventions. Divide into groups to work on each of the problems.

Now that we have identified some problems to solve, here are some steps for designing inventions to help solve the problems:
Analyze the problem
Define the problem
Select ideas to try
Implement the idea
Evaluate the solution

Analysis…Getting to know your problem
Put down all you know about the problem. Get out a pad and pencil and write down everything you can think of about the problem.
Try to group the ideas you have generated

Defining the problem…Perhaps your original problem was too big or not clearly understood.
Try to identify one problem within the big problem and write it down.
In your group try to discover what you think is the core problem.
The idea is to get on paper the problem you have decided to solve.

Select ideas for solution…What are some ideas that might work?
Try brainstorming. Remember to write down every idea no matter how weird. Do any of these ideas seem like they might work?
Try synectics. How is your problem like a pencil? A star? A telephone? A song?
Do any of these ideas seem like they might work?
Pick one or two ideas to try out.

Implement the idea.
Build a model or draw a diagram.

Evaluate the idea
Present your solution to your classmates. Get feedback on how to improve your solution.

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