Our fourth unit of the year focused on how "Our needs, interests and curiosity lead us to new discoveries and ideas."
The students began the unit by looking at photos of some important inventions from history and were tasked with trying to understand what they could have been called or used for. Next, they interviewed parents or other family members to find out about what their lives were like before the convenience that some of the modern inventions such as the cellphone or television have brought.
In order to find out more about why people invent things, and to improve the students' understanding of time, we created a timeline of inventions that included important inventions that improved our ability to communicate, to get from one place to another, to entertain us, or to make our lives easier and less labour intensive. Students chose 4 inventions related to communication, transportation, entertainment or an easy life to research and display on the timeline. Once the timeline was complete, we observed and reflected that most of the inventions that we use in our daily lives have only been around for the last hundred years.
To learn more about how our ancestors began communicating we looked at cave art and how the ability to make fire was important for early humans to help them survive. With some help from Mr. White, we discovered that it's not so easy to rub two sticks together to make fire, but could see that is possible if you try really hard and keep experimenting.
Much like many inventors throughout history, the students' curiosity drove them to find out more about how things work. Working with a partner, students took different things apart to examine how they work. Partners disassembled an electronic drum set, a toy piano, a hairdryer and a digital camera apart. Before doing so, they used keen observation skills to record what they saw, as well as what they thought they would find inside. Then again when they opened them up they also recorded their findings of what all of the complicated parts do. Two groups even managed to reassemble the piano and drumset so that they still worked!
To demonstrate an understanding of how we invent things based on our interests or needs, the students were given the challenge of coming up with their own invention that would somehow meet a need of their choosing. To do so, we followed the six Ds of Solution Fluency: Define the problem, Discover more, Dream, Design, Deliver and Debrief.
Some of the problems the students came up with included: The ocean is filling up with garbage, cellphone batteries always need to be recharged, two-wheeled scooters are dangerous, birds are not safe from cats or eagles in their own nests, etc... The students came up with many creative inventions to meet these needs or solve the problems and displayed them for other classes to see at our Invention Convention! The Grade 2 students took pride in their work and happily answered questions and offered explanations and demonstrations of their inventions at work!