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Investigate an Invention

Students will select an everyday object related to winter, conduct research to learn about its history, brainstorm ideas about how the product could be improved and create a timeline to show what they learned.

PROCESS:

  1. Have students brainstorm a list of products that people only use during the winter months. 
  2. Instruct students to select one item from the list. Tell them to conduct research to find out who invented the product, where and when it was invented and why the inventor created this particular item. Encourage them to search for a picture that shows what the invention looked like in its original state.
  3. Next, have students examine how the product has evolved over time. Instruct them to identify key improvements. Encourage them to find pictures depicting each example.
  4. Challenge students to identify one way they think the product could be improved even more. Encourage them draw a picture illustrating their ideas. 
  5. Have students use the information they collected to create a detailed timeline about their product. 

ASSESSMENT: 

Invite students to present their timelines to the class. After everyone has shared, point out that all of the products are related to winter. However, they can be categorized in different ways. If necessary provide examples such as: items that remove ice or snow; items that help people deal with the weather; or items that people use just for fun. Challenge students to categorize the items in as many ways as they can.

CUSTOMIZE THE LESSON:

Grades 3-4:
Brainstorm a list of winter products as a class. Then have students complete the project in small groups. Encourage them to include at least three notable product improvements on their timelines.

Grades 5-6:
Brainstorm a list of winter products as a class. Then have students complete the project with a partner. Encourage them to include at least five notable product improvements on their timelines.

Grades 7-8:
Assign each student a partner. Instruct pairs to brainstorm ideas and select one winter-related product to investigate. Tell them to identify at least five notable product improvements. In addition to the basic information required, challenge students to uncover details that tell about the inspiration behind each change. Encourage students to be creative as they incorporate this information into their timelines.

Grades 9-10:
Assign each student a partner. Instruct pairs to brainstorm ideas and select one winter-related product to investigate. Tell them to identify as many key product improvements as they can. In addition to the basic information required, challenge students to uncover details that tell about the inspiration behind each change. Provide blank index cards. Instruct students to create an advertisement for each change on a card. Challenge them to depict the changes in a way that is appropriate for the time periods when the product improvements occurred. Have students incorporate their advertisements into their timelines.