Educate, Encourage & Empower Girls

Invention Convention 2014

Fourth Grade Invention Convention: 8:30 - 10:30, Friday, February 28, 2014

Third Grade Invention Convention: 8:30 - 10:30, Friday, March 7, 2014

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Letter to Parents

Project Requirements

Timeline of Project

Inventor's Journal Questions

 

Letter to Parents

Dear Third and Fourth Grade Parents,

This year Burke’s will host our thirteenth annual Invention Convention! This project is a rite of passage for third and fourth graders. Younger students look forward to creating and sharing inventions, and Upper School girls look back on the project fondly.

The goal of the project is for each girl to use her creativity and imagination to invent a solution to a problem. In science class, we will follow the steps of the design process to transform her idea into a prototype that she can share with the school community.

Science time will be dedicated to working on inventions, so most students will not need to work on their project outside of school. The girls will be asked to bring in some of the materials to create their inventions (aside from common classroom materials like tape, staples, paper, etc.) and will probably seek your help with gathering the necessary materials. These should not be a major financial investment. I will be encouraging the girls to use simple materials and think about repurposing things they already have around the house. Re-using materials not only saves money, but also has a smaller impact on the environment and fosters creativity.

For your reference, information about project requirements, a timeline of the invention project, and the Inventor’s Journal reflection questions are all posted below this letter. Please read through this information, even if your daughter is in fourth grade – there are some differences between the grades.

Like the past two years, the third grade and fourth grade will share their inventions with the Burke’s community on separate days, rather than in one combined Convention. There will be opportunities for parent volunteers on the days of the Invention Conventions. I will post information about volunteering in Tuesday Notes closer to the date of the Invention Convention.

Please contact me, instead of the classroom teachers, with any questions about this project. Thanks for your time, flexibility, and support of this exciting project!

Sincerely, 

Elizabeth McDonald
Lower School Science Teacher
(415) 751-0187 x273
elizabeth.m@kdbs.org

 

Project Requirements

Invention

  • Third graders develop their own individual invention. We will work as a community of inventors and students will help each other with peer testing, but each girl will present her own invention on March 8.
    • The invention must perform a practical function to solve an everyday problem. Examples include tools to mend something, to make life easier, or to make a task safer.
  • Fourth grade girls may choose to work on their own or collaborate with a partner in her same section (4A or 4B) on developing an invention. There are perks and pitfalls to collaboration, and one of the downsides has proven to be the difficulty in arranging time outside of school to gather materials and work on the invention. We encourage the girls to discuss this decision with their parents.
    • In fourth grade, the inventions will still have a practical function. They may solve an everyday problem or a global/community problem.
    • Fourth grade inventions must have at least one moving part, and students are encouraged to incorporate simple machines into their inventions. 
  • All inventions must be portable. They cannot have sharp blades. Projects involving electricity must be cleared with Ms. McDonald, and inventions should not require an electrical outlet to work.

Inventor’s Journal

  • The girls will collect ideas and rough designs in a journal.
  • Each girl will reflect on her invention process in writing. She will write a rough draft of her reflections in her journal and a final copy on paper provided in class. (Click here to jump to the questions.)
  • She will also draw a diagram of her invention, showing the parts.

Display

  • Students should plan how they would like to display their invention and prepare the necessary materials. An elaborate display is not necessary. Some students may want to bring in items that help them demonstrate the use of their invention such as a book for a bookmarker, a box of dirt for a garden tool, etc.
  • Due to allergies and other issues, no food samples or treats will be allowed. If the student’s invention involves food she can bring in the necessary item as a prop only, not as a giveaway. No nuts or nut products may be used.
  • Tables will be set up which will give each girl (or pair of girls) a space which is approximately 3’ wide x 2’ deep to present her invention.
  • The Inventor’s Journal reflections, diagram, and 9” x 12” poster will be part of the display as well.

 

Timeline of the Invention Project

(Italics = the students’ focus each month & Boldface = a deadline) 

At any point in the process, if a girl wants/needs extra time to work on her invention, she is welcome to come to the Science Lab on Fridays from 3:20 – 4:00. I am happy to schedule other times after school to help students with inventions – please contact me. 

December – Invention introduction: The girls will be introduced to the project requirements, learn about the design process, and begin brainstorming ideas. Each girl has an Inventor’s Journal to keep her brainstorm lists and invention ideas in.

December 20 – Third graders should have at least 3 ideas for inventions written down in their invention journal. Students brainstorm multiple ideas so they can use a backup idea in case their first idea falls through. (Fourth graders will work on brainstorming after the New Year.)

January – Collect materials for invention. Build a prototype or several prototypes, and begin to test and get feedback from peers. Science and lab time will be devoted to helping the girls build their inventions. There may be times when the girls will need to finish parts of these tasks at home. Each girl will check in with Ms. McDonald weekly about her progress on her project.

February 1 – A first prototype of the invention should be completed or well underway.

February – Continue the process of testing, getting feedback from peer testers, and making changes to prototypes. Reflect on the invention process in the Inventor’s Journals (see the list of Inventor’s Journal questions).

February 15 – Rough draft of Inventor’s Journal reflections should be complete. If necessary, girls may be asked to finish writing their reflections at home.

Late February/March – Design the display for presenting the invention at the Convention, including a 9” x 12” poster advertising the usefulness of their invention. Make any last-minute changes to the inventions.

February 21 - Final draft of Inventor’s Journal reflections (in best handwriting) are due.

February 28, 8:30-10:30 a.m.  – Fourth Grade Invention Convention in the Burke’s lunchroom

March 7, 8:30-10:30 a.m. – Third Grade Invention Convention in the Burke’s lunchroom

On both Convention days: Parents and other family members are encouraged to come and view projects from 8:30 – 9:00 a.m. Other students from all grade levels will then visit the Invention Convention, along with Burke’s teachers and staff.

There are many opportunities for parent volunteers on these exciting days!

 

Inventor’s Journal Questions

Third Grade:

  1. Who was the user you had in mind when you designed this invention? What was their need or everyday problem? Example: A family with different tastes in salad dressings needs a way to keep the refrigerator organized.
  2. How does your invention work? Describe what the user does and what happens. On a separate piece of paper, draw a diagram and label the parts?
  3. Are there any levers in your invention? Where?
  4. Explain how you built your invention. What was the hardest part?
  5. How did your ideas/plans change through the process of designing and building your invention?
  6. If you had another month to work on your invention, what would you do? 

At the end of your reflections, thank anyone that helped you with your invention!

Fourth Grade:

  1. Who was the user you had in mind when you designed this invention? What was their need or everyday problem? Example: A city that sometimes has rainstorms needs a way to keep the storm drains from clogging and flooding.
  2. How does your invention work? Describe what the user does and what happens. On a separate piece of paper, draw a diagram and label the parts.
  3. What simple machines are in your invention? How do they move?
  4. Explain how you built your invention. What was the hardest part?
  5. How did your ideas/plans change through the process of designing and building your invention?
  6. If you had another month to work on your invention, what would you do?
  7. (for students working in pairs) How did working with a partner help you with your invention project? What advice do you have for future inventors about working with a partner?

At the end of your reflections, thank anyone that helped you with your invention!