The Mother of All Inventions

 Monique Mainella
/adapted by Ron

Teacher's Guide








In 1899, the commissioner of the U.S. Office of Patents said, “Everything that can be invented has been invented.” If that were true then many of the inventions we enjoy today would never exist.

Think about it!  If you look around, you’ll find that your life has been much easier because of some important inventions!

Many inventions are often the result of a need, while others happen accidentally. Of course, some more common and popular inventions are modified because like the saying goes, there is always room for improvement. With changes in technology, materials, knowledge and resources available some inventions can definitely be improved to make life even easier.

So, what inventions are due for some changes and how will the changes you make impact our lives for the better, now and in the future?




You will take an already invented item and improve it.

You will interview people and observe how the invention is being used to make it better and fit the psychological, physical and environmental needs of people in the 21st century!

You will present your invention at an invention exhibition and persuade people that you have the winning invention!


Process:  leading to a Product that responds to the Task


You will be working in cooperation with your teammates throughout the production process. You will have to learn a lot about your invention choice to be able to talk about it and its components.


Click on the links below to find out what you have to do in each phase.



  1. First, you will individually look at the following list of inventions and choose the one invention you would like to improve. You will have to defend your choice to your teammates so think about your arguments for your choice, think about how this invention has made a contribution or helped mankind the most.
      Jot down your ideas in your Inventor’s Log Book in box A.

             Your invention choices are: pencil, inline skates, alarm clock, umbrella, refrigerator

   2.      Next, in your team (4 members). Each student shares their choice and explanations for their choice. Ask your teammates questions or for clarification.

Asking for clarification:
  • What do you mean?

  • How would you do that?

  • Why?

  • Do you think that is the best way/one?


Then, as a team you will have to agree on the one invention you will improve and present to the class.


  1. Discuss, in your team, what you already know about the final invention your team chose. Think about how it is used, what are the advantages and disadvantages of the invention? Write your ideas in your Inventor’s Log Book in box B.


  1. Write a journal entry after you’ve observed how you use the invention your team chose. Write about how it makes your life difficult or easier. Write about how the invention can be improved. Use the Inventor Journal 1 to write your text.


  1. Research the invention by viewing the sites listed in the resources section. Each member of your team will view at least one site, take notes about what is interesting and useful for your project, and report back to the team. Discuss your findings with your team. Add the information in your Inventor’s Log Book in box C.



Here are some sites that contain information about your invention.


All about pencils:


All about inline skates:


All about alarm clocks:


All about the umbrella:


All about the refrigerator:


  1. Next, you will gather information about how to improve your invention choice from people around you. In your team, decide which two people will conduct the interviews and which two will be observers. If you are conducting the interviews you will choose two or three people and ask them how they feel about the invention you are trying to improve. Ask them what they think needs improvement and why, what things should not change, etc. Add the information in your Inventor’s Log Book in box D. You will go to the following site to learn about how to conduct a proper interview.

If you are observing, you will observe your surroundings at home, school, neighbourhood, etc. to collect information about how your chosen invention can improve. (example What is it used for? Is it miss-used and why? What isn’t it able to do? )Add the information in your Inventor’s Log Book in box D. Discuss your findings with your team.


  1. Finally, decide if your team would like to produce either a museum/science display or a poster presentation. Since you will present your improved invention at an invention fair, you need to persuade people that you have the best idea. Use persuasive language like, it’s the best, it’s better than, it’s the fastest, etc. Think about what makes it new, better, interesting, helpful, environmentally friendly, etc. You should use the notes you gathered in your Inventor’s Log Book.


  1. In your group, create a storyboard to plan your project. Your teacher will give you specific instructions.



1. Create your media text (for your display or poster) respecting the decisions your team made during preparation. Take time to discuss the elements of your chosen media – images, text, slogan, …

2. Make your text interesting and effective by including a sketch of your improved invention, testimonials from people who use it, etc., according to your media type. Click on this site to see a sample sketch of an invention:


Post Production

  1. Review and edit your text and put the final touches to your presentation.
  2. Prepare to present your project to the class. Your teacher will explain what the procedure will be.
  3. While you listen to the presentations make sure to take motes on your Invention Appreciation Sheet.
  4. Reflect on your work by using the Self Evaluation sheet found at the last page of your Inventor’s Log Book.



You’ve seen how learning about an invention, observation and asking people how they feel about inventions can definitely improve the inventions and make them more functional. So keep observing, carry an inventors log and jot down ideas and maybe you’ll be the next big inventor!

  1. Write a final journal entry 2  using your Inventor’s Journal.
  2. With a new team of members from different teams, discuss some inventions that would improve the environment.
    Take notes (choose a secretary) and then share with the class.



Evaluation Rubric


 C1 - Interacts orally in English



C3 – writes and produces text