Activity 3: Identifying Solutions

Sketch Your Solution

Make a plan for what you will build tomorrow! Create sketches of the invention you would like to create. Consider different views of your invention. What does it look like from the side? From the top? From the bottom? Make sure to label the different parts of your invention and give the invention a fun name. Write the name in the box.

graph paper grid

Assemble Your Toolbox

Inventors need tools and materials to build their inventions. A famous inventor, Thomas Edison, is credited with saying, “To invent, you need a good imagination and a pile of junk.” You have been using your imagination all week long. Now, you need a box full of things to invent with.

First, find a box and label it: My Inventor’s Box. This could be an unused shoe box or a box from the recycling bin. With your parent’s permission, go on a scavenger hunt in your home and collect basic tools and materials to put in your box. Basic tools and materials means just that—BASIC. These are things you use every day or things that you already have at home. You do not need to buy anything. For example:

example toolbox with tape, glue and tools

  • Clay or modeling compound (play-dough)
  • Cardboard
  • Building blocks
  • Cotton swabs
  • Wooden sticks
  • Heavy-weight paper (cereal boxes)
  • Adhesives, glues, and tapes
  • Brass brads
  • Scissors
  • Pencils, markers, and erasers
  • Wire or pipe cleaners
  • String or dental floss
  • Ruler

All inventors should have their very own notebook to write their good ideas, lists of problems, and sketches of solutions. Get in the practice of using your notebook. Think of this as your technical diary. You will be less likely to forget something if you write it down. Also, you can refer back to your notebook to see what things you tried, especially if something didn’t work.

Above all else, be safe. It’s a good idea to paste safety tips on your Inventor’s Box. Talk about the tools you have in your box with a parent. Think about potential hazards of using each tool and material. Keep your tools and materials in a safe place and out of reach of a younger brother or sister. Inventing is fun … but only if it is safe.

General Safety Rules

  • If you are in doubt about how to use a tool, ask!
  • Have a plan for what you are going to do with the tool.
  • Be mindful of others who might enter into your workspace accidentally.
  • Secure the workpiece.
  • Have a balanced stance while using a tool.
  • Remove all jewelry, watches, and loose clothing before working with machinery.
  • Pin up long hair and wear closed-toe footwear.
  • Never work when you are tired or unfocused.
  • Leave the workspace cleaner than when you found it.

Students working safely with cardboard