With resources from the Smithsonian Museum as our guide, students spent a Friday in May diving into what it means to be an inventor. We learned about several women inventors such as Marilyn Hamilton, Hedy Lamar, and Ellen Ochoa. Through materials from the Picturing Women Inventors exhibit at the National Museum of American History, we learned about these inventors, their contributions, and their lives. Students chose one to research further and worked with a partner to discover more about these problem-solvers.
Our math teacher and resident engineer, Michael Colemen, gave a presentation in which he talked to students about the inventors in his family. Before working at Rock Point, Michael founded a company to create freehand drawing technology and learning materials for the blind and visually impaired. He showed old family photos, as well as blueprints and videos from his company.
In the presentation and in their research, students saw common threads of traits all inventors share. They are curious, patient, resourceful, and willing to make mistakes before they land upon a successful idea. Students took some time to reflect on these traits in themselves and to think about times in their lives when they’ve drawn on these traits.
Finally, we spent the end of the day addressing various problems by building our own inventions. Teams of students solved the problems of carrying heavy laundry baskets from the dorm floor to the basement and the challenge of warming up your dorm room. We ended the day with a classic egg drop, and students created an invention to keep an egg safe when dropped from the library roof! As usual, we were impressed with our students’ openness to trying new things and the innovativeness of their ideas.