A new transdisciplinary approach to teaching and learning, known as invention education, is gaining popularity in the United States and abroad. Young people are learning ways inventors find and solve problems that matter through inquiry-based, hands on projects. They are also learning how to build solutions in ways that are environmentally friendly, how to protect their ideas and creations, and how to bring solutions to intended audiences (i.e. entrepreneurship).
Students and teachers tell us stories about the knowledge and human skills they gain that help prepare them for the future of work and to be leaders in their communities. They also tell us that the experience is fun and transformational to their lives. We invite you to take advantage of the time you may be spending at home. Gather your tools, re-usable materials and dive right into the activities we have on this site. If you have questions along the way, please post them in the Week 2 forums.
The Lemelson-MIT (LMIT) Program located within the School of Engineering at MIT has helped 257 teams of high school students and their teachers learn to invent. Ten teams have earned patents for their work. Prof. Michael Cima, LMIT’s Faculty Director, Prof. Sangeeta Bhatia, the 2014 Lemelson-MIT Prize winner, and MIT Media Lab alumnus and 2014 Lemelson-MIT Student Prize winner, David Sengeh, offer their insights into ways of helping young people learn to invent.
What can families do to use this time to help young people get started on the path to becoming a young inventor?
Prof. Michael Cima on the Pathway to Invention
What 3 pieces of advice would you offer to young inventors?
Prof. Michael Cima on Advice for Young Inventors
What characteristics do inventors share?
Prof. Sangeeta Bhatia on Invention
What’s important to think about when solving a problem?
David Sengeh on Invention Tips for Young People
Activities for Grades K-2
Welcome to MIT’s Full STEAM Ahead!!
My name is Dr. Pascha. Working with young children is absolutely what I love. I am so excited to work with you and your child this week. Your help is very important in facilitating their learning. It’s going to be a week full of fun, excitement, learning, and adventures, and I can’t wait to get started! Feel free to share what you are doing in the Full STEAM Ahead forum. We are here to support your child and you. Look below to see five days of activities that we’ve laid out for you. Keep in mind that it’s ok if you take more time on a day, move more quickly than one day at a time, or even start on a Tuesday! We only encourage you to have fun and start inventing!
Activity 1: Letter from Dr. Pascha on Solving Problems
These are very unusual times for all of us. The activities in this care package are adapted from a program that was highly engaging for 3rd-, 4th-, and 5th-grade girls this past fall in an afterschool program at a local elementary school near MIT. The goal is to help young inventors understand that they need to develop empathy for the people they are inventing with. It’s important to invent with people and not for people.
Our current situation that requires physical distancing makes it difficult to invent with people. However, as you facilitate your child’s learning, you may be able to assist them to reach out to a family member or a friend who may have a hearing loss – the theme of this week’s activities. Perhaps you have stories you can share of people you’ve known who have hearing loss. This will help your child understand difficulties people have in the “hearing” world and will help build empathy. The activities here are complete. Your child can spend 20 minutes or 20 hours having fun with the activities while they learn about inventors and inventing.
Please share your child’s work with us. There is a forum that adults can register for. We would love to see the inventive and creative projects your child works on this week. Hopefully, with their invention box full of safe tools and materials from home and armed with a notebook to write down all their good ideas, they will invent for years to come.
This package includes activities for five days. It is best if you work through the activities in order. Everyday you will invent with common materials and create comic strips or digital stories about your invention experience. You can spend as long as you want on each activity: an hour or many hours. Remember, inventing is just plain fun!!
Activity 1: Let’s Invent: Creating Your Own Invention Box
Please click through these slides to get started! If the audio doesn’t work or if you prefer to read, you can simply read the text by clicking on the slides and pressing the “s” key to open Presenter View.
We have included five activities included in this package. You can spend as long as you want or need on each activity: 20 minutes or many hours. You can complete the activities in order or jump in where you are most comfortable.