By Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, October 11, 2006
- Elementary School
- Design History
- Social Studies
- analyze the progression of inventions in the area of transportation
- explain how people invent new ways to solve problems
- consider ideas to solve a current-day transportation problem
- "People Mover Problem" worksheet
- photographs of the following: a person walking, a wheel, horse and buggy, bicycle, train, automobile, airplane, space shuttle
Building Background How Things Change
The purpose of this activity is to place items in chronological order, and analyze how each invention solved a problem.1. Make copies of images of a person walking, a wheel, horse and buggy, a bicycle, train, automobile, airplane and a space shuttle. 2. Show the class the image of a person walking and discuss how at one point in time people could only get from one place to another (on land) by using their feet. 3. Tape the remaining images on the blackboard in no particular order. As a class, place the images in the order in which they were invented. (The wheel, horse and buggy, bicycle, train, automobile, airplane and the space shuttle.) 4. After the items have been placed in chronological order, discuss what problem each invention addressed and how it was solved. 5. As a class, brainstorm inventions in the transportation category that were created to do work, i.e., tractors, helicopters, plows, backhoes, etc. Recap how people are always inventing new ways to solve problems and accomplish work. Teacher Note: This activity format could also be used with a variety of other topics. (e.g., communication, medicine, housing)
Steps for Learning Solving the Next ProblemThe purpose of this activity is to provide students with an opportunity to analyze a problem and brainstorm ways to solve it. 1. Divide the class into small groups. Ask students to think about a problem in the category of transportation. This might include new ways to move people and/or new ways to move people in a more economical, environmentally friendly, or energy efficient manner. Explain to students that the goal is to think creatively about an existing problem. It's the thinking process that is important NOT the feasibility of the idea. 2. Ask students to select one of the ideas and either write a description of or draw an illustration of the idea. 3. Provide time for students to share their ideas.
ReflectionCreate a class rubric with your students that will help them understand the effectiveness of their design process. Use the following guidelines to help create the rubric. -How effective was your brainstorming in generating ideas? Excellent Good Adequate Poor -Rate how effectively you analyzed the information you used to identify your problem. Excellent Good Adequate Poor -Rate the effectiveness of your solution. Excellent Good Adequate Poor -Rate how clearly you communicated the problem you wanted to solve. Excellent Good Adequate Poor -Rate how clearly you communicated your solution. Excellent Good Adequate Poor -Rate your effectiveness as problem solvers. Excellent Good Adequate Poor
Enrichment Extension Activities
ResearchHave students research an inventor and give an oral presentation to the class.