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.
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.
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?
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.
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!
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.
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!
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…
Don’t worry; I promise this is not going to be an advertisement for a home improvement network…
DIY is one of the coolest new sites that I’ve chanced upon in a long, long time. I haven’t even shown it to my students yet, and I am super excited about it. This is going to be something awesome, I have a feeling.
DIY offers kids the chance to earn Skill Badges by doing challenges. After browsing through the skills and challenges, I was ready to start earning my own badges. The challenges look fun, and since I never got a chance to participate in Girl Scouts, the virtual badges seem like the next best thing to me. For example, how would you like to earn your Papercrafter badge by doing 3 challenges (out of 13 choices) that include making a walkalong glider or building a paper vehicle?
Most of the challenges include instructions, either with video or pictures. There is a great parent info page, along with a Parent Dashboard once you sign up. DIY kids get their own website to show off what they make, and there is a supporting iOS app to easily upload videos and pictures of their creations. The site seems very user-friendly and, best of all, encourages kids to be creative and inventive.