K/1 recently completed a unit of study under the transdisciplinary theme, How We Organize Ourselves. Their exploration focused on how humans work together to design inventions that people use.
Through this inquiry, children shared what they already knew about inventors and inventions and considered the following big questions:
- What makes an invention an invention?
- Where do inventors get their ideas?
- How is the collaborative process important in the creation of inventions?
- What are some PJS community needs that have been met through inventions?
Children discovered that inventors embody many of the attributes of the Learner Profile. They are open-minded, reflective inquirers, thinkers and risk-takers...just like students at Princeton Junior School! With a focus on inventions that are created in order to solve problems, K/1 students began to think like inventors and generated a list of problems that they noticed in the K/1 classroom and narrowed it down to the following four problems:
1. Backpacks falling out of cubbies
2. Blocks falling down in the block area
3. Losing marker caps
4. Running out of tape
Young inventors each chose a problem to solve and got to work! After studying the work of a variety of inventors, they realized that many inventors use a step by step process to help them successfully reach their goal. They collaboratively created the following diagram showing the steps they observed during their inquiry:
Students then worked on design plans and some even began to build prototypes.
For their summative assessment, K/1 inventors presented the story of their inquiry at an All School Gathering and created display tables sharing their work. Since K/1 inventors learned the importance of feedback in the design process, community members were invited to ask questions and provide feedback in a suggestion box to help to improve the invention.
At the All School Gathering, K/1 inventors also shared some of the books available in the PJS library that influenced and advanced their thinking about the inventing process. Among their favorites were:
The Most Magnificent Thing by Ashley Spires
Transformed: How Everyday Things are Made by Bill Slavin
Mistakes that Worked by Charlotte Foltz Jones
Six Dots: The Story of Young Louis Braille by Jen Bryant
Ada Lovelace; Poet of Science by Diane Stanley
So You Want to Be an Inventor? by Judith St. George
Pop’s Bridge by Eve Bunting
Rosie Revere Engineer by Andrea Beaty
Ada Twist Scientist by Andrea Beaty
Going Places by Peter Reynolds
The Book of Mistakes by Corinna Luyken
Whoosh: Lonnie Johnson’s Super-Soaking Stream of Inventions by Chris Barton
The Way Things Work by David Macaulay
Papa’s Mechanical Fish by Candace Fleming