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March 30, 2019

10 lesson plans teaching the power of invention

Learn how to solve problems through the power of invention and innovation. Use these 10 lessons to explore inventions that are battling invasive species, finding untapped renewable energy and more.


What is invention education?

Invention education is a student-centered and project-based approach to solving problems. The journey along the way is in many ways just as important as the final product. Let your students know that someone — likely a team of people — invented nearly all of the things we use on a daily basis: tablets and TVs, cars and stoplights, apps and video games, sneakers and sports equipment, etc. All of these products were part of the invention process. Here’s a brief look at how MIT-Lemelson InvenTeams use the invention process to help young people design their own inventions:


  • Concept phase: Identify a problem, conduct research and brainstorm solutions.

  • Design phase: Create a plan, calculate costs, select the best solution and determine necessary resources.

  • Build phase: Sketch, model or build a prototype.

  • Review and redesign phase: Review the invention for strengths and weaknesses.

  • Share phase: Present the invention to your class and share photos using #PBSInvention and @NewsHourExtra via Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, and we’ll send you a prize! Email newshourextra@gmail.com with any questions or feedback.


Feedback, please! PBS NewsHour Extra is always looking for ways to make our invention resources stronger. Take a look at the lessons below and let us know what you think. If you have a minute, we’d appreciate it if you filled out this feedback form.


Lesson plan: How inventions will land humans on Mars

Lesson plan: How inventions are saving sea turtles

Lesson plan: Solar invention makes safety and production levels shine

Lesson plan: How “Impact Inventing” could help fight Lyme Disease

Lesson plan: Is solar power the future of energy?

Lesson plan: How new inventions help people with injuries and disabilities

Lesson plan: Invent your own device to battle invasive species

Lesson plan: Invent an app that helps your community

Lesson plan: How innovation in renewable energy protects the environment

Lesson plan: Bot or not? How fake social media accounts could influence voting


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