I understand that some of you would like more clarity around the Invention Convention. Here I will share information that I hope will support you in helping your child plan and create their project, if they need it or if you would like to step in.
The Invention Convention is an annual 4th-5th grade engineering & design project that culminates in an evening event where students display and explain their ideas to the public. This year, work on the project started a couple of weeks ago, including in your child’s class under the previous teacher. One of the most important things to remember: You don’t have to buy anything!
What is the nature of this task? Students are asked to think of a problem and design a model of something that will solve the problem. There are specific steps in this process: Problem identification, brainstorming solutions, envisioning a design, and creating a prototype. While the informational materials distributed to students are lengthy and contain lots of ideas and recommendations (please see below for more on that), the essence of the project is very simple. Make a useful product and create a display board to show your work and share your ideas with others!
Your child will be provided with the display board, materials to create the board, and lots of time in class to research, design, and work on their displays.
Friday, May 10:
•Written What-Materials-Steps-Problems sections in Google docs (share with me)
•A drawing of your intended finished product
•Ideas for what you want to do on your board
**Students will be able to take their boards home over the weekend, May 11-12**
Wednesday, May 15:
- “Rough draft” of final board to present in practice sessions in class!
Thursday, May 16:
- Final board ready and presentation to other kids’ families!
What do I need EXACTLY for the Display Board (again, students will get one from the school and be able to take it home over the weekend)?
- **Research** (Websites, experiments)
- Plan/Procedure (“Materials & Steps”)
- Creation (model; not actually on the board itself)
- **Field testing**
- Pictures (Downloads from web OK; I’ll help with this)
- Conclusion: How will this invention change the world?
- “I believe, based on_________, my invention will ….”
ONE MORE THING: Students may work alone, in a partnership, or in groups. Students are being asked to start their own Google Doc and do their own work, even if they are part of a group. That way, everyone is accountable for their own part of the project. If students decide to share a project board, it is up to them to decide together who will get to take it home, what will be placed on it, etc. Please contact me for any clarification on this.
This is basic information for you. Keep reading for more on the Invention Convention!
•There are a couple of short videos I like to share that provide some background knowledge of the process as well as inspiration for the task at hand. This video from the Buck Institute gives an overview of Project Based Learning (PBL), which is essentially what the Invention Convention is all about.
•Some videos I have used with second graders in the past include “Loop Scoops” by PBS Learning Media. “Juice Boxes” shows a student learning about a problem and coming up with a way to solve it. “Garbage” shows another student solving a problem, and invites viewers to come up with their own solutions.