Monday, February 24, 2014

Mancel Talcott Elementary School Outreach

On Thursday, February 6th, I arrived at Mancel Talcott Elementary School in order to do after-school community outreach activities with Ms. Pagan and Mr. Rowe's 5th and 8th grade students. 

First, I began with an icebreaker where the students were asked to name one invention that they had used that day. After that activity, I introduced Mr. Edward Spriggins as the guest speaker. Mr. Spriggins, the Business Development Manager at iMagine-it-Tech, spoke about his experiences at iMagine-it-Tech helping inventors value and develop their ideas. During his presentation, Edward pointed out to the students that often the best inventions are simple solutions to a common problem or need. In order to illustrate this point, Edward showed the students this hilarious image:  

1970s tree swing cartoon picture

After Edward's presentation, I passed out the four objects that I had brought from home-- one object for each group of students. I had brought a little ribbon-shaped phone screen cleaner; a bookend; a paperclip; and one piece of gonggi, the Korean version of jacks, which can essentially be described as a small, plastic bead filled with glitter. Whether the students recognized the object and its intended function or not, the goal of the activity was to have each student in each group come up with a new, different use for their object. The students were extremely creative in the new uses they thought of for the objects, my favorite being the repurposing of a bookend as a pizza slicer!

Finally, I wrapped up the visit with a review of the Cycle of Inventing and asked the students if they wanted to talk about any preliminary ideas that they had for their projects. After having thanked and said goodbye to the class, Mr. Spriggins and I left the school building feeling very excited by the creativity of the students we had the pleasure of working with that day and eager to see what inventions they will dream up for the Invention Convention in the spring!

Sunday, February 16, 2014

At Lozano School I have been implementing the invention activities one day a week after school with 5th-8th grade students.  I have included many activities that were shared with us such as: Each group receives an item and they have to figure out what it is used for. Another day we took items in the classroom and had to make a list of other things the item could be used for.  I have used the IBM service kits along with the lessons given to us in the invention convention Google doc. The kids have been really engaged and have come up with things I never expected. We have been practicing: presenting a problem, brainstorming possible solutions, design possible solution, improve solution and then communicate design and solution.  (also using SCAMPER questions)  Below are pictures of the students participating in two of the IBM kits. The purpose of the shoe invention was to pick a problem to address and make a shoe that solves the problem. 

Artsy Shoe: Uniquely designed wedge shoe cushioned for extra comfort
Hiking Shoe: Flashlight in front and you can press a button for metal spikes to come out of the sides if you need to climb
Running Shoe: with a light in the front that turns on in the dark
Cleaning Sandal: Pad underneath so you can mop or sweep while you move
The Goal of the marble ramp was to make a ramp out of only paper and tape that allows the marble to roll and then stop closest to the finish line.  The students had to practice communication skills during this activity. Only one member went to the launch site first, then had to communicate to other members what was wrong with the design and then they had to improve it and launch a second time. 
Now it's time to use what we've learned as Engineers and begin to start our own inventions.  Our invention convention showcase at our school is going to be April 10th. I hope the fun and innovation continues!
Colleen Scampini-Dolecki
Lozano School

Friday, February 14, 2014

Outreach Activities at Jose de Diego Community Academy!

Today we conducted an Invention Convention outreach event at one of the participating schools, Jose de Diego Community Academy. 

Mr. Madrigal runs a before school club, enrichment program for IMSA, Robotics Club, and STEM students. The students are in grades 6-8 and were fresh from winning an award at a Robotics Club event just a week earlier (Congratulations!).

We started the presentation with a short exercise in teaching the kids about patents. They had to guess what the item was by the patent blueprint drawing. They were shown 2 patents that were filed in the late 1800's, but are today common household items. And also both products were invented right here in Chicago.

Click here to view the intro slides: Jose de Diego Invention Convention Outreach

We were then delighted to have as a guest speaker Mr. Patrick Harris, Chief of Product Development at iMagine-it-Tech. Mr. Harris discussed the topic of engineering and 3D printing and showed a short video on how 3D printing works. The students were very intrigued!

He even passed around objects that were printed in 3D!

We ended with an exercise where the students split into 3 groups. Each group was given a random object used in everyday life and told to think of "new" or "innovative" ways to use them. The ideas they thought of were great!

Thank you to Mr. Madrigal, Mr. Harris, and to the CPS students at Jose de Diego for a fun and insightful outreach event! Good luck to all of you in this year's CPS Invention Convention!

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Irving Elementary School Outreach

On Wednesday morning, I worked with Ms. Falwell's 3rd and 4th grade elective classes at Irving Elementary School!  Her class focuses on more advanced science topics and, once a week, on inventions.

I played a video for the class (see below), which highlighted the work of Bernard Kiwia, a Tanzanian inventor from Arusha, Tanzania, who invents products that use bicycle powered energy.  I had the opportunity to meet with him when I worked with young student inventors in Arusha in 2012, and he was very inspiring!

After watching the video, we talked about how Bernard applies the Cycle of Inventing (see presentation link below) to his invention process so he can address problems specific to his community.

We also talked about patents - most students didn't know what a patent was, so they got a chance to learn something new!  We used an example of a Adjustable Bicycle-Parasol and Support patent to discuss how a problem can be solved in many different ways and how a product can solve many different problems.

Finally, we did an activity to apply the students' creative thinking and problem-solving skills.  Students passed around a Quirky invention in small groups and brainstormed different ways they could use the invention.  Most groups didn't know what their invention was, so it was cool to see all the different ways they thought of to use the inventions!

Click here to view my powerpoint presentation.   Ms. Falwell also took some pictures, so I'm hoping she will get to post some on the blog - stay tuned! 

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Teacher Fun at Orientation

We found our teachers having a little bit of fun exploring interesting inventions from all over the country.  To our surprise, some of these were by Chicago inventors.  We shared the inventions from our everyday lives that were shared with our classes to kick off the Invention Convention at our schools.

Teachers are excited to launch the Invention Convention and explore the creative minds of their students. 

Check out the photos from Teacher Orientation.