The Invention Convention–just another day at school …another day of hands-on learning.

I recently interviewed a number of youngsters above grade 4 from local schools and asked them how much project/service/game based learning they did.  They didn’t know what I was talking about, so I explained myself.  They still didn’t understand, and were frankly disinterested.

Disinterest–the result of a childhood full of irrelevant, test-driven memorization and drill.

To us perhaps, the Invention Convention isn’t so special–because it is somewhat routine.  And that just goes to show how special the whole learning program is at PSOLI–routinely involving.

This year’s fifth grade inventors came up with:

  • a snow plow that melts snow and reuses the water
  • a portable screen for police to prevent rubbernecking (my personal favorite)
  • an earthquake alarm
  • a solar powered emergency backpack kit
  • a robotic trash can
  • a pendant necklace to hide your hearing aid in
  • an automatic firewood retriever and stacker
  • a species finder/indicator/tracker
  • a sweeper you can ride for fun
  • a shopping bag that prices your items as you fill it
  • a bed that does everything you need including bathroom and kitchen duties
  • the total water earplug
  • the perfect (no arguments) pizza cutter
  • a flying camera
  • a shoe that hides a bottle (for thirsty athletes)
  • a computer mouse with built in sanitizer
  • an ipod nano hat
  • a thumb piece for easy texting (especially for big thumbs)

They learned about developing an idea, documenting steps, marketing, jingles and slogans, communicating with the public, confidence, and on and on.  But what I think they may take away most from this activity is … science is GREAT FUN!  The attitude stays forever, and powers young people to great heights in their lives.  At the elementary age, school should mostly be about building attitudes.