HOT TOPIC: Inventors
Volume 1, Issue 35 - May 22, 2005

"In today's era of accountability, there is an emphasis on making sure students have the fundamentals that promote critical and convergent thinking. This is important; it has its place in teaching children. Still, once these skills are honed, their real world application requires students to actually use them in new and different settings. This is the measuring stick of how well students have learned: their ability to use what they understand in authentic, real-world settings. Perhaps there is no discipline in which this is more true than in the sciences. In a science lab the proof of learning is in the doing. But going through the motions of rote experiments is one thing; challenging students to experiment creatively is quite another.

In layman's terms, this process of creative experimentation is known as invention: designing, testing and developing an idea for a product which will i make work easier or improve the quality of life for the end-user. Whether you target this process in an annual science fair or integrate it conceptually across the curriculum, it is a key experience for students preparing to enter the Information Age work force. The research, collaboration and use of the scientific method required to make the invention process a success are all key skills 21st century workers must master. Most importantly, the ability to develop and market information will be key as we continue the transition from an industrial economy to an economy of ideas.

To personify the spirit of invention, consider the profiles of the many famous inventors who have made a name for themselves as they have contributed to the advancement of technology over the past centuries. We commonly use the term genius when referring to these individuals, owing to their ability to think beyond what is presently possible and make their vision a reality. As we continue to learn about human intelligence it becomes more and more clear that genius is not that rare commodity claimed by a chosen few. Rather, it is the flexibility in thinking to look at the world in new and different ways, from the way questions are asked to the way we find answers to those questions. We all have the capacity for genius.

With this premise in mind, I offer to you this week's digital dozen on invention. I hope you will utilize these resources to challenge and inspire the genius in all your students! ....."

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©2005 Walter McKenzie

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