Creative Thinking, Critical Thinking, Education, K-12, Student Products

2 Invention Challenges

If you have been working on Design Thinking with your students, you might want to enter one of two invention challenges that open to children at the moment:

The 2016 Annual Invent It Challenge, sponsored by Spark!Lab, invites participants from 5-21 years of age to submit an idea for a solution to a real-world health problem.  The deadline for submissions is 3/18/16.  Click on the above link for more details.

Invent It Challenge

Imagination Foundation (the wonderful organization behind Global Cardboard Challenge and many other great activities for kids) has teamed up with AT&T to offer the Inventor’s Challenge.  According to their site, “we invite kids of all ages around the United States to invent a solution to a challenge faced by their school or community.” (I’m not certain if they literally mean all ages, as I couldn’t find actual age restrictions on their site.)  Submissions are due by 3/11/16.  Visit the site for more information and register to receive a free download of the “Playbook” with ideas and suggestions for participation.

Inventor Challenge

3-12, Art, Computer Science, Creative Thinking, Education, Language Arts, Parenting, Problem Solving, Student Products, Teaching Tools, Videos, Websites, Writing

Disney’s Create Tomorrowland XPrize Challenge

Okay. Full Disclosure – George Clooney is one of my favorite actors. But I promise that is not the reason I chose to mention the “Create Tomorrowland XPrize Challenge” on this blog even though George Clooney happens to be the star of the movie this contest is promoting.

I haven’t seen the movie, and I don’t know a lot about the contest, other than what can be read on the website.  However, if you know a child between 8 and 17 years of age who has an inventive imagination, you may want to investigate this opportunity.  The contest asks for videos, images, or stories that envision a beneficial invention that might exist in our future.

You can see specific entry guidelines here.  Don’t forget to visit the “Idea Portal” for some real-world examples of people who are working to shape a better future for all of us.

Submissions are due by 5/17/15 – so don’t procrastinate!  Who knows what life-saving ideas might be hibernating in the mind of a student, just waiting for the right circumstances to be revealed?


Creative Thinking, Education, K-12, Motivation, Problem Solving, Research, Student Products, Teaching Tools, Videos

It’s Not Just a Soccer Ball

Image of Soccket from Uncharted Play
Image of Soccket from Uncharted Play

Ever since the Doodle 4 Google theme for 2014 was announced (“If I could invent one thing to make the world a better place…”), I have been finding resources everywhere.  I’m pretty sure I could spend an entire year with a class on this theme.

For example, last week on Twitter, @theresamcgee shared a fabulous page of student projects done last year in which 4th graders dreamed up simple machine inventions to make the world a better place.

Then I went to TCEA, and Leslie Fisher (who is completely hilarious and awesome and probably my long, lost sister) shared some great inventions during her “Gadgets” presentation that make the world a better place:  Soccket – the energy harnessing soccer ball that gives hours of light after 30 minutes of play, Squito – the ball with 8 cameras that can stitch together the pictures for a panoramic view with potential to be used by first responders in dangerous situations to check out the surrounding area, and Gravity Light – lift a weight in 3 seconds that will give you 25 minutes of light as it descends.

Then, Kid President released his newest video, “How to be an Inventor.”

I mean, really, how can you not come up with an idea to make the world a more awesome place with all of these resources at your fingertips?  Practice a little S.C.A.M.P.E.R. with your students, and see what they can design!

Art, Creative Thinking, Education, K-12, Student Products, Teaching Tools, Videos

Doodle 4 Google 2014

from Doodle4Google 2014 site
from Doodle 4 Google 2014 site

Every year about this time, Google launches the Doodle 4 Google Contest for students in K-12.  I love to see the new theme each year.  This one certainly invites a lot of creative ideas! The winning entrant can win a $30,000 college scholarship, as well as $50,000 for his or her school.  There are other prizes available as well. Entries are due Thursday, March 20th.

Maybe I completely missed it in years past, but I am really excited to see the addition of “Classroom Activities” to the Doodle 4 Google resources. These include “Activity Packs” for different grade level groups, a video featuring some Google Doodlers, and links to planned Google Hangouts during the month of February that will allow students to connect with some real-life Google Doodlers.

Here are some other resources you might want to view to get some inspiration: Google Doodle Gallery, History of Google Doodles, Some Past Doodle 4 Google Winners.

And, just in case you feel like doodling is a poor way to spend your time, you might want to read this article from NPR: “Bored? Try Doodling to Keep the Brain on Task.

Apps, Education, Games, K-5, Problem Solving, Websites

Fantastic Contraption

Screen Shot 2013-03-07 at 5.54.42 PM

Fantastic Contraption is my link for you for this Fun Friday – which is particularly fun, because our district’s Spring Break begins tomorrow!  This website reminds me a bit of the Bubble Ball app for iOS.  Kids who like to build and problem solve will enjoy this site.  This is a great way to emphasize the importance of mistakes, and how we can learn from them.  There is an option to pay for the full version ($10), but I was completely satisfied with the free version.  I thought the tutorials were very helpful, so definitely encourage your students to walk themselves through those.  Many gifted students will skip immediately to the hard levels, get frustrated by their difficulty, and quit.  Remind them that starting from the beginning is not a sign of weakness!

By the way, I would like to congratulate Cindy and mitzif, who commented on my Write about This post, and won app codes for the full version! (Brad was kind enough to offer an extra one.)  If you haven’t had a chance to check out Write about This, and you happen to be on Spring Break next week, too, you should take a moment to try it out!

Art, Creative Thinking, Education, K-12, Research, Science, Student Products, Teaching Tools, Websites

The Tinkering Studio

Screen Shot 2013-01-14 at 7.18.16 PM

It appears that 2013 will be the year for great, new museums.  I mentioned the Museum of Mathematics last week.  This week, while researching the site I am blogging about today, I found out that the famed Exploratorium of San Francisco is moving to a new location.  Fortunately, The Tinkering Studio site, sponsored by the Exploratorium, is still up and running – though it appears that the Exploratorium site is not.  Hopefully, it is just getting an upgrade like its physical counterpart.

The Tinkering Studio is full of interesting ideas for, well, tinkering.  There definitely seems to be a resurgence of the maker movement, and this site can inspire many creative projects.  Each project is described, offers pictures, and gives reasons for its educational value.  Many also offer PDF’s with instructions on how to do the project.

I am going to offer this site as a resource for my 5th graders, who have a Genius Hour each week, and who are sometimes looking for ideas for their next learning project.  I’m also going to keep it in mind for my 10-year-old when she says, “I’m bored,” this summer…

"Light Painting" from The Tinkering Studio Activities
“Light Painting” from The Tinkering Studio Activities