Invention Convention

As I moved from the Sunnyside Environmental School, I packed a tradition in my suitcase – the Invention Convention. This project comprised a portion of Earth Day celebrations and students throughout the grades in the K-8 school worked on a wide array of ideas. On the day of the “convention” the gym was converted to a display hall and projects filled up the space. I loved walking through and seeing the different ideas. My class of middle school students teamed up with our 1st/2nd grade buddy class to tour the projects. The little ones bounced with excitement to show their middle school buddies their work and, in turn, would oh and ah at the big kids’ work. I enjoyed the energy and enthusiasm and brought it along when I moved. Though my current school isn’t one to get behind large curricular initiatives, I am the sole middle school science teacher so students all work on this project at the same time. I encourage students to work outside of their grade level and each year a few cross the line to work with others.

We are just kicking off the project. I’ve shown a few inspiring videos of kids their age making great inventions for their community:

Note: William’s story is being made into a full length documentary that is scheduled for release sometime this year. For more information, go to the documentary site.

A second great video is the TED talk of Richard Turere: My invention that made peace with the lions.

Here is my current assignment – as always any comments would be greatly appreciated. I’m flying solo on the integration of a Standards-based reporting system and project-based learning. The night is dark on this flight…

Students submitted the problems they are working on. Here’s the list – I’m looking forward to see the solutions and inventions!

  • People cut down lots of trees at the mountain area, and when it rains the rocks will start moving down very fast through the slope of the mountain. The rocks will destroy many things when erosion happens.
  • Many people around the world do not have enough clean water to drink, so they drink “dirty” water. The people who drink dirty water might get sick and die.
  • People all over the world are wasting batteries that can be re-used and causes more trash to the world. Batteries that are thrown away are dangerous because they might destroy farmlands, destroy crops and might increase the mutation rate.
  • There is too much trash on Earth. Anywhere you put it is still taking up space. Incinerators cause pollution and often trash gets dumped in the most inconvenient locations. It is a growing problem.
  • In Taiwan, typhoons arrive in the summer when fruits are starting to ripen. Strong winds and rain causes the fruit to fall off the tree and rot, making profits low for farmers. (Jan & Andy)
  • 75% of Earth is covered by water but only 2% of fresh water can be used. So if people keep wasting soon there will be no fresh water so we have to save water.
  • Mosquito bites are a great issue for our school and the whole world. Some mosquitoes even carry lethal diseases.
  • Batteries are used as power sources everywhere around the world, especially alkaline batteries. But such batteries waste energy when they lie unused.
  • Humans dump trash in the ocean. This normally results in sea animals being hurt, killed or even poisoned by the plastic in the trash.
  • In cities, private transportation is causing pollution and wasted resources. First of all, private vehicles gives us a great need for fuel and in the making of fuel we pollute the world.
  • Pollution is one of the world’s main issue, which came from the modern society we have right now that are made by human beings. Pollution from large factories, smoke from the vehicles, chimneys and burning of woods are all examples of pollution that are made by us. Our group is focusing on the smoke that the vehicles are making.
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