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Five classroom activities for Kid Inventors’ Day


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Author: Bo Lamers, itslearning Netherlands

Kid Inventors’ Day is celebrated annually on January 17th, the birthday of Benjamin Franklin. When he was only 12 years old, Franklin invented the very first swimming flippers! Did you know that Braille, a reading and writing alphabet developed especially for the blind, was also invented by a child?

The great thing about children is that they don’t adhere to rules about how something is “supposed to be”, so their urge to explore and experiment is high. Creativity is all around us. Kid Inventors’ Day encourages children to use their creativity to come up with solutions and ideas. Inventions often occur in response to a problem. Asking students to solve a problem is one way to encourage creativity in the classroom.

At age 16, George Nissen invented the trampoline after he observed trapeze artists use their safety nets as a tool to rebound and perform additional gymnastic feats. In a brilliant revelation, he realized that this would be a fantastic training tool for gymnastics coaches and students. The result? The invention of the trampoline as we know it today!

For Kid Inventors’ Day, we have developed five classroom activities for you that address current themes. Below we provide a brief introduction to the activities that you can download for free via the form at the bottom of the page. We wish you lots of fun!

1. Creative with food waste

Roughly a third of the world’s food – about 1.3 billions tons a year – is wasted. In the Netherlands alone, an average of 24 kilos of food per person is wasted per year, so designers at the Willem de Koning Academy came up with a partial solution to this problem. They use existing technology to make candy and ‘leather’ bags from fruit that would otherwise be thrown away. Learn about this innovation in this video about Fruitleather Rotterdam. Of course, there could be other ways to use fruit leather. What will your students come up with?

2. Repurposing old clothes

The mountain of wasted old clothes is growing. Less than one percent of all clothing discarded worldwide is made into new clothing. 13 percent is recycled and made into stuffing for mattresses (down-cycling), but most of it goes into landfills or the incinerator. Learn more about clothing waste by watching this video by the BBC.
Nicole Mclaughlin is a fashion designer who up-cycles fashion items. For example, she designed an arm sling from old North Face jackets and a suitcase from old shoes. View the creative designs of Nicole McLaughlin.

3. Inventing fantasy animals

Eating less meat is beneficial to your health and the environment. More and more meat alternatives have appeared on the market in recent years. Consider, for example, the vegetarian smoked sausage. Cultured meat is also a development in full swing. Meat alternatives are made to look and taste like existing animals and existing meats. This involves imitating the textures, flavors and shapes of meat that people are familiar with. Marije Vogelzang is a Dutch food designer who has studied this phenomenon. Why do we actually cling to these meat shapes and not invent our own fantasy animals for our vegetarian meat? You can find more information about Marije Vogelzang’s faked meat project here. What do your students think vegetarian meat should look, smell and taste like?

4. Crafting with sounds and words

The Dutch band De Jeugd van tegenwoordig became famous for their song Watskeburt! (2005). The song was a direct attack on Dutch standard language as well as an ode to street language. The band is known for their creativity with sounds and words. In this song, they gave meaning to words that did not yet exist. New words are being invented and recorded in a dictionary at this moment. For example, have you heard of the beyoncé fly – a new species of horse fly? Researchers noticed the fly’s striking golden abdomen, which made them think of the singer Beyoncé. In 2015, the word “beyoncé fly” was added to the Dutch dictionary. It can be fun to play with sounds and words in class – try creating songs with simple melodies.

5. Energy innovations

The Netherlands, as well as other countries, is currently experiencing high inflation due to the current energy crisis. Energy is becoming more and more expensive and this is causing social problems. Therefore, we need to come up with innovative ideas for generating energy. A potato provides electricity, just like a battery. Make a potato clock with your class and find out which other fruits and vegetables provide energy. For inspiration watch this video.

We wish you a fun Kid Inventors’ Day! You can download the activities below. Don’t forget to share the results of the activities on social media and tag us!

pdf cover poster

Fill out the form to get detailed instructions for all 5 activities.

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