Kids often invent things without realizing it. Curiosity in how things work and how to use them differently, coupled with childhood imagination, can be the basis for great inventions. Science inventions can encompass all areas of the science lessons and all ages of children. Animals, humans, nature and space are just a few ideas to begin with. Finding different ways to see or to use the world around them will help children imagine and invent.
Have the kids think about pencils, crayons, markers and pens. Encourage kids to plan an invention that will use these things in a different way or make homemade rather than purchased writing utensils. Kids can also think of ways to keep the round things from rolling off a slanted desk, fit into a pocket, fasten to a hat, or clip to a keyring.
For younger children, provide scraps of craft foam or Styrofoam and have them think of an invention to keep pencils from rolling off their desks. Older kids can take apart a ballpoint pen and find different uses for the empty pen, such as a spyglass or spy camera.
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Airplanes, rockets, flying saucers, kites, helicopters and hot air balloons are just a few of the flying inventions kids are familiar with. Older kids can invent new versions of any of the above, as well as their own ideas for something that flies in the air. The science of flight, weather, or outer space can be incorporated into invention ideas. Younger children can create their own ideas of flying things that really work.
Younger children can create an airplane or flying saucer, or even a windsock from craft foam, paper plates, light and heavy papers, and decorative craft materials. Ideas for older kids can revolve around recycled materials. A working rocket can be made with a plastic soda bottle, partially filled with water and then attached to a bicycle air pump. The kids will use the pump to fill the remainder of the bottle with air, until it explodes upwards to fly.
Water can be used in many ways for kids to create inventions. Glass containers filled at different levels and then tapped with a metal spoon can make a water musical instrument. Kids can use water and various containers to create other types of music. Water power can be demonstrated in various ways, from a waterfall's power to how water helps plants grow.
Younger children can add different liquids to water to create different types of bubbles, and then find some things they can use as bubble wands. Have the kids catch some colorful bubbles with paper to create a bubble painting. Older kids can make water power by simply holding a purchased pinwheel and squirting it with water to make it move. They can also use a plastic bottle filled with water to various levels to make magnifiers and distortion instruments.