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STUDENT TASK

Inventing a Better World

Do Something
Grade Level

What?
Students invent a product or process that solves a social problem discussed in the central text.


Estimated time

Two to Three weeks
 

Why?

Problem solving challenges students to use critical thinking and creativity to imagine an alternative to the current reality. This task requires students to apply their academic analyses to a real-world situation.
 

How?

Get Ready

  1. Introduced the task by showing real inventions created by youth. Provide examples of inventions designed with social responsibility and human rights in mind. Share the story of Playpumps as an example of a creative solution to a humanitarian crisis that, ultimately, needed to be rethought. Remind students that solving big important problems requires perseverance.
  2. Determine whether students will work in groups or individually.

Get Set

  1. Provide students with information about supplies, work schedule and due dates. Use the rubric to define expectations and project components and to clarify how you will assess student work.
  2. Ask students to create a list of social problems they want to address. Introduce students to the Do Something Student Planning Guide to help them plan and narrow down their ideas.

Go!

  1. Provide ample time and access to online resources so that students can research the problem and crosscheck their ideas to ensure their product or process is original.
  2. Students should document the following steps in their invention process:
    • Identify the problem or issue of concern.
    • Research the problem.
    • Brainstorm a list of ideas that might solve the problem.
    • Crosscheck for same or similar ideas
    • Design (draw, sketch, mind map) the product or process.
    • Name the invented product or process.
  3. Depending on time, have students develop their inventions into the next stage by building an actual tool, object, or device. If less time is available, have students turn in the blueprint for their invention.
  4. Once inventions are complete, hold a Gallery Walk or demo of inventions:
    • Arrange the room to showcase inventors or inventions. Hang chart paper next to each invention.
    • Provide time for students to present to and interview each other about their ideas.
    • Instruct students to rotate throughout the room recording feedback on the chart paper.
    • Provide time for individuals or collaborative groups to read, review and discuss the posted comments.
    • Consider inviting outside “evaluators” as special guests (local celebrities and leaders, other teachers, administrators, other classes, community members, higher ed. Instructors, etc.).


Reflection

Use journal writing or Talking Circles to facilitate student reflection. Some suggested reflection questions are:
  • What invention caught your attention? What were its strengths?
  • Discuss the effectiveness of using invention for social change.
  • What did you learn from this experience? What moments of the process stand out for you? What did you learn from other inventors?
  • How did our inventions relate back to our reading of the central text?


English language learners

Explicitly teach vocabulary associated with the task (“ product,” “identify,” “research,” “brainstorm,” “crosscheck,” “design,”etc.). Supply English language learners with additional vocabulary words that may help in the presentation of their final product. Show students a variety of modern inventions, and give them plenty of time to practice their presentations.


Connection to anti-bias education

Inventing is action. It requires a close look at a social issue and encourages deep discussion about products and processes that could end injustices. It also encourages students to look at issues through diverse lenses. Through the act of invention, students may begin ask themselves why and how products and processes gain momentum in the first place. They will begin to realize that they have the power to be inventive thinkers and create change within local communities or markets.