THOMAS – Elementary teachers from Southeastern Idaho spent Saturday attending an Invent Idaho workshop. Teachers were from Snake River, Shelley, the Idaho Science and Technology Charter School (ISTCS) and Pocatello.
The workshop is designed to help students “think outside the box.”
“As teachers, we try to inspire creative thinking as a springboard to inventive thinking,” presenter Beth Brubaker said. “The first thing we teach kids is problem finding.”
Students also need to research their project, she said. This does two things. One, they learn about their topic and discover if their idea has already been invented.
For example, one student invented a candle “poofer” so candles could be poofed out instead of having spit cover the cake as the birthday honoree blows out his or her candles.
Another student invented diet silverware. The tines of the fork were spread apart and the spoon had a hole in it.
“The inventions do not need to be high tech,” Brubaker said.
“It’s a lot of fun,” said Snake River teacher Lisa Norman. “It’s getting children to brainstorm and not be afraid of failure.”
“This is a way to encourage students to think of ideas and to solve problems by coming up with new inventions,” said Janelle Harder, a teacher at Riverview Elementary in Shelley.
“It helps students think outside the box,” said teacher Ray Fox from Pocatello. “In the normal scope of a problem, students discover other uses for stuff.”
“There are many different ways to generate ideas and stimulate higher order thinking by using hands-on manipulation,” said ISTCS teacher Stephanie Thompson.
Invent Idaho was started in 1989 for first through eight graders by gifted and talented teachers Brubaker and Diane Garmire. Brubaker teaches in the Lakeland School District in Rathdrum, near Hayden Lake. Garmire lives in Coeur d’Alene and teaches in Spokane.
“We think Invent Idaho will grow exponentially, especially with the state’s emphasis on STEM education,” Brubaker said. STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math.
Three regional competitions are scheduled. Students can enter their invention in one of five categories. These include working models, non-working models, games, adaptations, and Jules Verne.
For Southeastern Idaho, the regional competition will be March 2 and 3 at Snake River High School. For more information, contact Jill Munson at Snake River Middle School in Thomas.
The state competition will be March 9 and 10 at the University of Idaho in Moscow.