Strategies for Empowering Students

  • To encourage students to develop and increase their interest in science
  • To promote critical thinking skills through authentic tasks
  • To enhance writing and reading skills
  • To foster an integration of the language arts skills

  • Recognition of the importance of science
  • Appreciation for the contributions of scientists
  • Development of scientific concepts

  • Science
  • Language Arts
  • Career Development
  • Research

Students will focus on the contributions of inventors and their inventions, using the strategies of inference and metacognition. Have the students think about the various inventions that make their lives easier and fun. An obvious one would be television.

Read or have students read about inventors. Discuss these scientists, their ideas, and how their inventions helped or hindered the quality and safety of life. For example, the following selection might be shared with the students:

In 1923, Garrett Morgan, a black inventor, created the electric stoplight, a device that enables the orderly movement of millions of automobiles in towns and cities throughout the world. He then sold the rights to mass produce the stoplight to General Electric for the sum of $40,000. Garrett Morgan also invented a gas inhalator which earned him recognition when he used it to rescue nearly two dozen men trapped in a tunnel in Cleveland, Ohio.

In recognition of his heroic deeds and safety inventions, the city of Cleveland gave him a gold medal; in Chicago, a public school was named in his honor. It can be seen that Garrett Morgan made two important contributions to safety and the preservation of life.

Next, working in cooperative teams, have the students brainstorm on some inventions they could or would like to create and the rationale for doing so. For example, how would their invention help to:

  • stop or prevent world hunger
  • stamp out a life-threatening disease
  • eliminate the drug problem in our country
  • prevent kids from joining gangs
  • increase the brain power of students so everyone would be able to get good grades
Students can think of other reasons for their inventions and add to this list. Encourage them to be as creative as possible. Some teams may wish to make drawings or models of their inventions, much like they do for science fairs. Also, encourage them to read about other inventors and inventions as a way to get some ideas about their own inventions.

After completion of the descriptions, each group will share their project with the class or an invited class.

  • Was the knowledge base of the students increased? How was this exhibited?
  • How did the students demonstrate their creativity?
  • How well were students able to cooperate in completing this activity?
  • Was there evidence of a new appreciation and interest in science as a result of this activity?


Excerpted from Beyond Rhetoric and Rainbows: A Journey to the Place Where Learning Lives ©1996 University of Illinois Extension.