Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Tuning Into Learning Through the Inventor’s Challenge

My 3rd grade classroom at Glengary Elementary is participating in the Inventor’s Challenge sponsored by the Imagination Foundation and AT&T Aspire.  We launched the challenge by brainstorming What If’s and actually presented them in the January #PasstheScopeEdu event on Periscope.  Here are some slides on our Inventor's Challenge if you want to take a peek.

A few weeks ago the challenge launched, and we began the process of inventing.  I would like to highlight one story from our first day of inventing! 

I was sitting at my desk, and I overhead one of my students say, “Hmmm…how can I attach this?”  I looked over and saw CR trying to attach a blown up fold-top baggie on a white t-shirt she had decorated. I asked her what she was trying to do, and she told me that she was trying to get the shirt to fly so people wouldn’t have to be stuck in traffic. I wished her good luck with the invention.  
Next, I noticed she realized the fold-top baggies were not keeping in the air, so she went and got ziplock baggies. She was super excited to fix the issue of air escaping.  She blew them up and started thinking about the placement when another student started a discussion with her about helium gas.  Knowing she didn’t have access to helium, she moved on to a different idea. 
Again, I heard her say, “Hmmm.  How can I attached these?”  I looked at her and saw her trying to figure out how to attached small flat batteries to the shirt.  I asked her what she was trying to do, and she went on to tell me that she was hoping that the stored energy in the battery to help give the shirt the energy to fly.  She also had part of a circuit board that was from a DVD the some students had disassembled earlier in the year.  She was trying to figure out how she could connect the energy to the board to see if there were any motors, as she thought that could be part of the solution to make the shirt fly. She tried and tinkered with it a bit, but our Passion Time ran out without much progress.  

As her teacher, I was able to witness many curricular connections through her tinkering.  CR was able to compare baggies and find one that sealed in air better. She learned about the difference in gases…and the capabilities of helium.  Her knowledge of batteries having stored energy was evident, and she realized that the circuit was in need of power in order to do work. Since we were at the end of our unit of Energy and Matter, I was able to see that CR had acquired knowledge from our unit.  I was able to assess her without giving a test…just through questioning her while she played essentially. Though she may not be successful making a shirt that flies, she has shown me success with her problem solving, her ability to redesign, and her basic knowledge of energy!  I believe we can do a lot more assessing through play if we pay attention to our kiddos and engage with them! I challenge you to pay attention to play and see what skills you can assess. I bet there are many! 

Here is a quick video with her reflections on her flying shirt invention. 

If you would like more information how your students or your child can participating in the Inventor’s Challenge, check out


  1. Wow! Happy for you and your students!!! Teach On

  2. what an innovative initiative this is for the video. i saw the video and it does seem thorough. the child seems to get to it well enough. you must keep on working on it.