TeachersFirst's Inventors and Inventions Resources

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Invent and Innovate! This collection of reviewed resources from TeachersFirst is selected to help teachers, parents, and students learn about inventors and inventions. Use these resources for science or social studies lessons and activities about innovation and invention, in observance of National Inventors' Day (celebrated on February 11, Thomas Edison's birthday),  or at any time during the school year. Whether you are simply learning about the history of invention or planning a schoolwide Invention Convention, these resources will provide inspiration and project possibilities.

 

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National Historic Chemical Landmarks - American Chemical Society

Grades
6 to 12
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Learn about the important people and places of science (not just chemistry)! The site traces dates back to the late 1700's. Learn about medicine, the invention of products (such as...more
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Learn about the important people and places of science (not just chemistry)! The site traces dates back to the late 1700's. Learn about medicine, the invention of products (such as the zipper), and more. Links include Frontiers of Knowledge, Medical Miracles, Industrial Advances, New Products, Cradles of Chemistry, & Take Action. This site is ideal for research projects (in chemistry, history, or health class).

tag(s): inventors and inventions (101), scientists (69)

In the Classroom

Have students use this site for individual research projects. Share the New Products link to learn more about inventions of the 20th century during an invention unit. Or share the scientific events that occurred during a certain time period in history as your social studies class tries to understand bygone eras. Challenge students to create multi-media projects about specific inventions or inventors. Or have students create their own inventions!

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Meet Amazing Americans - The Library of Congress

Grades
1 to 8
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This site offers some basic research on MANY "Amazing" Americans. Click to learn more about "Amazing" Leaders & Statesmen, U.S. Presidents, Activists & Reformers, Adventurers & Explorers,...more
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This site offers some basic research on MANY "Amazing" Americans. Click to learn more about "Amazing" Leaders & Statesmen, U.S. Presidents, Activists & Reformers, Adventurers & Explorers, Musicians & Composers, Writers & Artists, Industrialists & Entrepreneurs, Scientist & Inventors, or Athletes and Entertainers. Be prepared: when you click on one of the topics you may have a few people pop up OR more names than you can count! This is an excellent site for research, teaching students about American heroes, or using to enhance your social studies, science, or music curriculum. There are pictures, information, and even some interactives. There are also links to a Presidential Scavenger Hunt, a "Dynamite Presidents" interactive, and other "extras." Some of the activities require Flash. You can get it from the TeachersFirst Toolbox page.

tag(s): composers (21), explorers (61), inventors and inventions (101), presidents (131), scientists (69)

In the Classroom

This site could be used throughout the entire year. Why not highlight a "hero of the week." Share the information on your interactive whiteboard or projector. Have students write diary entries (or blogs) from the perspective of the "hero of the week." Use this site for individual research projects and have students create multimedia presentations about their hero: a Powerpoint, website, blog, wiki, or video. This site can be used in more than just social studies topics. Music classes, science classes, and gifted classes can also benefit from the many research areas.
 This resource requires Adobe Flash.

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WayBack: Plast-O-Matic - PBS Kids GO!

Grades
3 to 8
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Come to this site to learn more about the fantastic invention: Plastic! Click on M.F.P.P.L. to visit an interactive that challenges students to manufacture pieces of missing...more
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Come to this site to learn more about the fantastic invention: Plastic! Click on M.F.P.P.L. to visit an interactive that challenges students to manufacture pieces of missing plastic. The challenge is to create all eighteen items. The

tag(s): 1950s (12), inventors and inventions (101), plastics (9)

In the Classroom

Use this site to teach your students about the importance of plastics in medicine, cooking, and everyday life. Have students try the interactive challenge with a partner. Use this site for research projects on inventions. Have students brainstorm a list of things that they use that are made from plastics. Try some of the science experience (Slime, Anyone) -- sure to excite your students, and possibly get them a bit messy.
 This resource requires Adobe Flash.

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Design Squad - PBS Kids GO!

Grades
4 to 9
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Are you looking for a new way to get your students excited about science? This neat site is based on the PBS show, Design Squad, but you can easily incorporate ...more
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Are you looking for a new way to get your students excited about science? This neat site is based on the PBS show, Design Squad, but you can easily incorporate the activities and clips from the site without watching the show. There is a full educators guide available (see the Teachers link) with ten engineering and inventive activities. The site also includes video clips, building activities, and interactive (educational) "games." Some of the building activities include "Watercraft," "Hidden Alarm," "Dance Pad Mania," and others. This show also features "real life" challenges that students (or classes) are able to get involved with. This site requires Flash and Adobe Acrobat. You can get both from the TeachersFirst Toolbox page.

tag(s): engineering (125), inventors and inventions (101), sound (101)

In the Classroom

The possibilities at this site are "inventive." Visit the games site to learn about sound and play an interactive "string thing." Have students work in cooperative learning groups to recreate the building activities. Share the video clips (or interactives) on your projector or interactive whiteboard. Have your class complete one of the "real life" challenges together. If you can't do it during the competition months, go back and try one of the past competitions. Document it on a class wiki, then invite next year's class to do it even better by learning from "experience." Before you know it, kids will walk in the first day of school and ask when they get to try the challenge.
  This resource requires Adobe Flash and PDF reader software like Adobe Acrobat.

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Celebrating 100 Years of Flight: Build An Airplane - Scholastic

Grades
3 to 6
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Come to this website to learn more about aerodynamics, the Wright Brothers, directions to create your own airplane, and details about the invention of the airplane. The interactive...more
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Come to this website to learn more about aerodynamics, the Wright Brothers, directions to create your own airplane, and details about the invention of the airplane. The interactive airplane creation activity allows students to choose the wings shape and lift, the type of engine to use to power the aircraft (an aluminum gas-powered engine or a steal steam-powered engine), and how they will control the plane. Then the website tests out the students' choices to see if the aircraft will fly. The site doesn't offer an interactive flight, but rather a picture of the results of their choices. Students have the option to "try again" if their choices do not produce success.

tag(s): air (163), aviation (39), inventors and inventions (101), wright brothers (25)

In the Classroom

This website could be used in a variety of capacities in science and/or social studies. The site offers excellent research information about the Wright brothers and the invention of the airplane. The site would also be useful in a science class learning about flight, steam-powered engines, gas-powered engine, wings shape, lift, and other aviation concepts.

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Digital Vaults - National Archives

Grades
3 to 12
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This site offers digitized National Archives of the U.S. organized according to general category. You can finally explore and share primary source documents interactively through this...more
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This site offers digitized National Archives of the U.S. organized according to general category. You can finally explore and share primary source documents interactively through this Flash site. Start from eight featured topics. For a more in depth look at each subject and its associated categories, click on What's Interesting. A search feature is also available. An added feature at the bottom of the opening page is the "Pathways" tab. Students can participate in a "challenge" (in different levels) to find links between certain historical items. Students can also create their own pathways, writing about connections they find between certain archived items. In another section, students can create their own historical posters and movies from the archives. You can create a collection of items from the archives to retrieve or look at later, as well. This feature requires a free membership created by email address. There are also extensive lesson ideas and information for teachers at the small link, "Educators and Students," at the bottom of the page. Roll your mouse down to find it against the dark background. Note: the entire site is done in Flash (an HTML version is available from a small link at the bottom of the page). Get Flash from the TeachersFirst Toolbox page.

tag(s): inventors and inventions (101), primary sources (86)

In the Classroom

Use this site as an anticipatory set for a unit in history or on inventions. Share a collection of images or invention drawings on a projector or whiteboard and ask what the invention will do. Or use the site as the starting point for individual or group projects. After demonstrating on an interactive whiteboard or projector, have students use laptops or lab computers to "collect" resources related to their assigned inventor, decade, or era in American history. Check your school policy regarding accessing student email. If you plan to have students register individually, you may want to create your own Gmail account with up to 20 subaccounts for each group of students (by code name or number) within your classes. Here is a blog post that tells how to set up GMail subaccounts to use for any online membership service.Students can use their log-ins to collect resources.

Since the documents are in the public domain (are not copyrighted), students may also download and use the files as part of other projects, such as video compilations, Powerpoint presentations, or multimedia of any sort. To access the resources in non-Flash format, click the small link to "research this record in ARC" in the detailed view of the item. You can then view and Save As for use elsewhere. Be sure you teach students about copying the URL and relevant information from this ARC page to cite the source and give credit in any presentation they make. This site is excellent for enrichment or projects for the gifted, as well. Include it on your teacher web page for students to access both in and out of class for students who are working in History Day projects or other assignments for your class.

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Cyrus Rowlett Smith - learningbox.com

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4 to 10
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Use this site to learn about Cyrus Rowlett Smith, a pioneer aviator and patriarch of American Airlines. This website offers a simple interactive timeline of his life and accomplishments....more
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Use this site to learn about Cyrus Rowlett Smith, a pioneer aviator and patriarch of American Airlines. This website offers a simple interactive timeline of his life and accomplishments. The time line stretches from 1899 - 1990. There are graphics, historical and scientific information, information about World War II, and biographic information about C. R. Smith. The site and timeline are very simple to use and offer some little known information.

tag(s): air (163), aviation (39), world war 2 (142)

In the Classroom

Use this website as a resource for a research project about inventors. Share the timeline on an interactive whiteboard or projector during a unit about inventors, engineers, or aviation.

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Visual Ranking: Analyzing and Evaluating Information - Intel Education

Grades
3 to 12
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Engage your students in higher-order thinking skills with a collaborative activity using Intel Education's free Visual Ranking Tool. Visual ranking leads students though focusing, identifying,...more
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Engage your students in higher-order thinking skills with a collaborative activity using Intel Education's free Visual Ranking Tool. Visual ranking leads students though focusing, identifying, and refining criteria as they assign order or ranking to a list presented as a visual diagram. Students use a simple click and drag to organize ideas, explain their reasoning, debate differences, and reach consensus with each other. This web-based tool is accompanied by project ideas, instructional strategies, assessment tips, and research. There are also detailed lesson plans for grades 3-5, 6-8, or 9-12. Registration is free and creates a teacher workspace in which to build the class project. The password-protected workspace is accessed through the Internet where students log on with the teacher-created ID, team ID, and password.

Teachers can use the comprehensive tutorial to learn the features of the tool. The Try the Tool section has a demonstration workspace for teachers to practice with ranking a sample list and then comparing it to other lists. Take advantage of the experiences of other teachers in six detailed unit plans that provide usable handouts and student work samples.

Be sure to disable your popup blocker as the site needs to show popup windows during the project. This site requires Flash and Adobe Acrobat Reader. Get these tools from the TeachersFirst Toolbox page..

tag(s): careers (132), inventors and inventions (101), migration (59), sorting (10)

In the Classroom

Make a shortcut to this site on your desktop and student computers for easy access or simply add it to the Favorites on your teacher web page for access from there

. Use the Visual Ranking tool to explore themes such as the role of friends, human migration, the impact of inventions, what's fair, and career choices with your students. Have student teams show and explain their diagrams to the whole class using an interactive whiteboard or projector.

The Visual Ranking Tool can be used at any stage of a learning project. As a pre-activity or pre-assessment, it can help students discuss their prior knowledge and identify the things that they need to research or study further. As a mid-unit activity, it can help put new learning in a context that will be more useful in the next activity. At the end of a unit, Visual Ranking may be used to assess or reflect on learning. Students can access the project workspace from home or through other Internet access points such as the public library.
  This resource requires Adobe Flash and PDF reader software like Adobe Acrobat.

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The Case Files - The Franklin Institute

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4 to 12
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This wonderfully informative website provides numerous "case files" about many famous people from the world of science and technology.. There are five major areas including computing,...more
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This wonderfully informative website provides numerous "case files" about many famous people from the world of science and technology.. There are five major areas including computing, transportation, cosmic inquiry, energy, and communications. Once you click on one of the major areas, a list of names appears. Then click on the names of the famous people to learn more about their specific inventions and/or contributions to science and technology. The text also includes images of artifacts from each scientist's life: diaries, writings, and more, all clickable to bring up a larger image of the "real thing." Numerous famous scientists and inventors are included (Alexander Graham Bell, William Jennings, Marie Curie, Albert Einstein, Henry Ford, Catherine Gibbon, and many others).

tag(s): aviation (39), energy (198), inventors and inventions (101), scientists (69), transportation (40)

In the Classroom

There is a "teachers link" available to learn more about this website. Why not use this website as a resource for "case file" research projects. Assign each student (or groups of students) a different person to investigate. Weaker readers may need a partner with strong reading skills. Then have the students present a multimedia presentation about their "case file." Or have a day when students actually portray their scientist and interact with others "in character."

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Strange But True - sciencemuseum

Grades
3 to 8
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This simple website is fun for all ages. Students are presented with five questions (that are "strange but true"). Each of the questions is related to various forms of energy ...more
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This simple website is fun for all ages. Students are presented with five questions (that are "strange but true"). Each of the questions is related to various forms of energy and inventions that use some type of energy. The forms of energy include solar energy, wind turbines, magnetic force, and oil. You will be amazed at some of the creative inventions. This site requires FLASH. Get it from the TeachersFirst Toolbox page..

tag(s): energy (198), oil (45)

In the Classroom

Set-up your interactive whiteboards and make this quick five question challenge a class activity. What an intriguing website to share at the start of a unit about energy or inventions.
 This resource requires Adobe Flash.

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Way Back: Flight - WGBH for PBS

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3 to 8
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This interactive website (created by PBS) presents the history of flight. What a fabulous way to integrate history, science, inventions, research, and writing. Click your way through...more
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This interactive website (created by PBS) presents the history of flight. What a fabulous way to integrate history, science, inventions, research, and writing. Click your way through the notable and not-so-notable flight pioneers. Other highlights of this website include a wealth of information about the Wright Brothers, a modern day female barnstormer, "joke" links, and more.

tag(s): flight (36), inventors and inventions (101), wright brothers (25)

In the Classroom

Use the "People to Know" section as a model for a class activity on any science or history topic. Share this section of the Flight site on a projector or whiteboard during your inventions or Famous Americans unit. Then, in your next unit, have students write about an important figure without his/her name and ask others to guess who it might be. Put the writings on your class blog or wiki and have other students respond with their guesses.
 This resource requires Adobe Flash.

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Planet Science - NESTA

Grades
K to 12
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This MUST SEE interactive science website features eight specific areas. The "News" section includes weekly news updates and features. "Wired" has challenging interactive games for...more
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This MUST SEE interactive science website features eight specific areas. The "News" section includes weekly news updates and features. "Wired" has challenging interactive games for grades 4-12. "Sci-Teach" provides countless resources for teachers of all grades. "Out There" takes you to the "back garden of science delights," including inventors, sound, vampires, and the flu. "Parents" has useful ideas - even science experiments for children's parties. "Under 11s" is geared for younger students, an excellent collection!. The activities teach traditional science topics using new multimedia. The "Next Steps" link challenges students to think about their future careers (both science and non-science). There are printable pages and interactive activities for elementary, middle, and high school students. The "Library" link features countless online science resources.

Nearly every one of the activities requires FLASH. Get it from the TeachersFirst Toolbox page..

tag(s): inventors and inventions (101), planets (123), sports (97), water (130)

In the Classroom

Nearly all of the activities are ideal for interactive whiteboards (or projectors). This site is so rich it may be overwhelming. If you are an elementary teacher, start at the "Under 11s" link. Otherwise, visit the "Sci-Teach" link first for some excellent ideas, resources, and science fun. Preview this site before starting any science unit to find related activites and extensions.
 This resource requires Adobe Flash.

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Way Back: Technology in 1900 - WGBH for PBS

Grades
5 to 8
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Start your unit on inventions/technology or the decades of the 20th century with a 1900 music video from this site to show how advanced we have become. Students will ...more
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Start your unit on inventions/technology or the decades of the 20th century with a 1900 music video from this site to show how advanced we have become. Students will explore technology, such as telephone operators, music, and automobiles with a click on the links. Laugh at the Max Morath interview as he predicts that all the futurists are wrong. That interview will stir up your class.

tag(s): decades (14)

In the Classroom

Share the video on a projector then read the amazing 1900 Technology Predictions from the Ladies Home Journal and have your class make their own technology predictions for 2100. Invite an engineer into your class or share a dialog via email to talk about how many of the class predictions could possibly come true.

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Inventing Modern America: Games - Lemelson-MIT

Grades
5 to 12
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Students dream about becoming an inventor. This site shows that even the smallest item in life, such as the paper clip, was once invented by 'someone.' You can ...more
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Students dream about becoming an inventor. This site shows that even the smallest item in life, such as the paper clip, was once invented by 'someone.' You can promote creativity and encourage 'thinking outside the box' through this site. Play the 'Which Came First' game at this site to see if you can guess which invention came first, especially in conjunction with a social studies class on the inventors and industrial revolution. (Warning: It's harder than you think!) Or you may opt to play the 'Invention Connection' game, a challenging activity that builds higher level thinking through attribute listing and looking for common characteristics of diverse inventions. For pure information and inspiration, click on the five featured inventors to find video footage and other information about their lives and inventions. You will need the Shockwave plug-in to play the 'Invention Connection' game.

tag(s): inventors and inventions (101)

In the Classroom

Use an interactive whiteboard to play the games in science class as you talk about inventions, engineering, and the inquiry process that drives them or as an interdisciplinary connection in your lessons on inventions and the Industrial Revolution.
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How Products are Made - Advameg, Incorporated

Grades
5 to 12
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Got a curious student? Need a motivator to connect to science lessons? Trying to find real world applications of scientific principles? This site supplies volumes (literally seven volumes)...more
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Got a curious student? Need a motivator to connect to science lessons? Trying to find real world applications of scientific principles? This site supplies volumes (literally seven volumes) of products and how they are made. Just click on the volume number and each list is alphabetized for your students' perusal. Don't just read the short excerpt about the product. Click on the product name to read full details on product purchasing, its history, and much more. Below the "Volumes" section is another section of inventors and their biographies.

tag(s): inventors and inventions (101)

In the Classroom

When it is 'science report' time, direct your students to this site, loaded with hundreds of possibilities. Better yet, as you teach science principles, first share how something works that uses the same principle (on a projector or whiteboard). Then challenge students to find other REAL applications of the principle and create a class wiki glossary of concepts with example links. Model this the first few times, then assign them to work in groups. Since this site permits reader contributions at the end of entries, you may opt to find a product that needs more research and allow your students to add content information to the site (with your approval, of course). Every science teacher, gifted teacher, or tech ed teacher will want to share this site on your teacher web page.

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Electricity Timeline - British Energy

Grades
4 to 10
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This site provides a good introduction to the history and inventions/discoveries involving energy. There is also a text version (you can click near the top of the screen to ...more
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This site provides a good introduction to the history and inventions/discoveries involving energy. There is also a text version (you can click near the top of the screen to use the text). This site requires Flash. Get it from the TeachersFirst Toolbox page..

tag(s): electricity (89), inventors and inventions (101)

In the Classroom

This website is ideal for an interactive whiteboard, but would also work well as a scavenger hunt or research source for cooperative learning groups or students working on individual computers. Couple this with an activity on electrical circuits and one on energy conservation for a "round robin" of electricity activities.
 This resource requires Adobe Flash.

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Goldburger To Go - PBS

Grades
2 to 8
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For all of you who can't get enough of Rube Goldberg - this site is for you! This website provides a brief biography about Rube Goldberg and numerous ideas ...more
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For all of you who can't get enough of Rube Goldberg - this site is for you! This website provides a brief biography about Rube Goldberg and numerous ideas for creating inventions at home (such as lemon juice rockets, sneaker launchers and food elevators). But the highlight of this website is the interactive challenge "Goldburger To Go." The activity challenges students to design a machine that serves lunch. This activity provides a wealth of scientific information simply by clicking on the "Get a Clue" buttons throughout the activity. This site requires Flash. Get it from the TeachersFirst Toolbox page.. Be sure to check out the teacher's link for additional ideas for teaching inventions and other science topics.

tag(s): inventors and inventions (101), machines (30), simple machines (37)

In the Classroom

Students will truly enjoy this website, get an interactive whiteboard and involve the entire class. This activity provides wonderful enrichment and/or extensions for any unit on inventions, simple machines, or laws of motion.
 This resource requires Adobe Flash.

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Inventing Modern America: Invention Connection - The Lemelson - MIT Program

Grades
4 to 10
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This website helps to "connect" the dots of inventions. The "Invention Connection" challenges students to trace the paths and interconnections of many inventions. Students can complete...more
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This website helps to "connect" the dots of inventions. The "Invention Connection" challenges students to trace the paths and interconnections of many inventions. Students can complete this activity over and over again and learn about new inventions each time. The text portions may require some explanation to elementary students. This site requires Flash, get it from the TeachersFirst Toolbox page..

tag(s): evolution (100), industrial revolution (25), inventors and inventions (101)

In the Classroom

Use this wonderful resource during your inventions/inventors units. This activity helps students to understand the connections between numerous inventions and forces then to think about unusual commonalities between unlike objects. This invention activity is perfect for an interactive whiteboard. You may want to have a separate window open to "look up" some of the more esoteric inventions that show up, since they may not be familiar to you and your students.
 This resource requires Adobe Flash.

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Guide to British Life, Culture and Customs - Woodlands Junior School

Grades
3 to 8
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This website provides a one-stop adventure for anyone wishing to learn more about Great Britain. There are over 1500 pages of information and activities - all "kid-friendly", entertaining...more
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This website provides a one-stop adventure for anyone wishing to learn more about Great Britain. There are over 1500 pages of information and activities - all "kid-friendly", entertaining and educational. You will find information about British culture, history, flags, education, daily life, climate and weather, government, the royal family and more. There are also links available to classroom activities to use while teaching students about Great Britain. These activities include WebQuests, "Winnie the Pooh" adventures, comparisons of Great Britain to various states in the USA and other countries throughout the world, worksheets, interactive activities and other learning adventures. A true inspiration for your students is the fact that much of the content was created by students aged 7-11. Some of the activities require FLASH, get it from the TeachersFirst Toolbox page..

tag(s): britain (35), england (57), great britain (16), inventors and inventions (101), scotland (7)

In the Classroom

So many famous people and inventions are from Great Britain - J.K. Rowling, Shakespeare, the hovercraft vehicle, Darwin, Newton and countless others. If your class is learning about these famous people or inventions, use this website to further enhance their understanding of the people, inventions and culture of Great Britain.

As you study about what unites cultures into communities and countries, ask your class what they would include if they made a similar site about the city, state, or country where you teach. Use a wiki to start just such a site, including digital pictures. You can always start out simple and make a guide to your school itself -- including playground etiquette and favorite foods.
 This resource requires Adobe Flash.

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Monster Mash - Cara Bafile

Grades
3 to 12
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Students play inventor or entrepreneur and create a "monster mash" in this open-ended, creative activity. A detailed lesson plan, standards and an assessment are provided. ...more
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Students play inventor or entrepreneur and create a "monster mash" in this open-ended, creative activity. A detailed lesson plan, standards and an assessment are provided.

tag(s): halloween (40)

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