Lesson – Invention and Innovation


Science – 3-5-ETS1-2
Influence of Engineering, Technology, and Science on society and the natural world.

Language Arts – LAFS.5.SL.1.1
Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade 5 topics and texts, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly.

Mathematics – MAFS.5.NF.1.1
Add and subtract fractions with unlike denominators (including mixed numbers) by replacing given fractions with equivalent fractions in such a way as to produce an equivalent sum or difference of fractions with like denominators.

Big Idea(s)

Over time, peoples’ needs and wants change, as do their demands for innovative and enhanced technology. In this ever-changing world, we need to be continuously open to new ideas. Many of the great, inventive minds have persisted throughout history have opened doors that only a few could imagine. Our lives have been vastly improved by inventors that had a desire to create inventions to solve a problem or make the quality of peoples’ lives better. Our president is concerned that we are not keeping up with other countries in the area of engineering and inventive thinking. Why is this? As students explore famous inventions from around the world throughout history, they will decide what the best inventions of all time are and they themselves will become the inventors of the future.

Essential Question

  • What technology, new or improved, would make our daily lives better?


Innovation Invention Technology Engineering

Background Information

Ideas start by asking questions. Curiosity has sparked some of the greatest inventions of all time. An invention is defined as something “new” that was made by following a development process. It may be something entirely novel and unique or it can simply be an improvement of something that is already in existence. Some inventions may work, while others ultimately end in failure. One thing is certain, inventions have revolutionized the way that we live for hundreds of years and will continue to do so.

Guiding Questions

  • What is an invention?
  • How have inventions changed our world?
  • What leads people to invent?
  • What are some of mankind’s greatest inventions?
  • What do you think they meant by “necessity is the mother of invention” mean?
  • How do inventions change over time?

Instructional Sequence

Have students individually or in pairs read and complete two column notes on ONE of the following Energy Inventors/Scientists – Energy Inventors Fact Sheets from famousscientists.org. Students will select one of the following from this list:

  • William Gilbert
  • Otto von Guericke
  • Benjamin Franklin
  • Henry Cavendish
  • Alessandro Volta
  • Andre Marie Ampere
  • Georg Ohm
  • Joseph Henry
  • Michael Faraday
  • Samuel Morse
  • Thomas Alva Edison
  • Henry Ford
  • James Watt
  • Nicola Tesla
  • Class discussion on inventions using Guiding Questions
  • Introduce – SPARK: Energy Invention Challenge

Essential Question

Suppose you want to add several solar energy concepts into your home. You are told that you can save approximately 1/5 on basic electric costs and an additional 1/3 on heating costs. – What fraction of your utility bill will you save by using solar heat? 

The answer is:


Fun Facts

Did you know…

  • That electricity was never invented? It was discovered. The difference between invention and discovery is that humans can invent something which does not already exist in nature and discover something which already exists in nature. Electricity is actually a type of energy that is present in nature and hence, it was discovered and not invented.
  • That while many people give credit to Benjamin Franklin for the discovery of electricity, it is far from being true? Franklin conducted a series of experiments that merely helped establish a relationship between electricity and lightning.
  • That Thomas Edison built the first power plant? In 1882 his Pearl Street Power Station sent electricity to 85 buildings. People were initially afraid of electricity and parents would not let their children near the lights.

Inquiry Type

Teacher Resources

Two Column Notes

Spark Energy Invention Challenge - Full Download