Tools for Schools

Resources for Teachers, Engaging Topics for Students

Opportunities for Young Inventors

Did you know that many practical inventions were discovered by kids? Earmuffs were the creation of a fifteen year old named Chester Greenwood. Chester lived in Farmington, Maine where the winters are very cold. Plagued by ears that would turn purple while he ice skated and played in the snow, Chester devised an ear coverings made of baling wire covered with beaver fur and velvet. The design proved so successful that soon he was making them for sale. His family started a prosperous business and Farmington became known as the “earmuff capital of the world!”

Lots of other famous inventions were dreamed up when kids were in school. Gorge Ferris Jr. thought of his Ferris Wheel when he was an elementary school student. Levi Strauss designed and made his first pair of jeans when he was only a teenager. Color camera-film was invented in a high school physics lab by two friends who just happened to have the same first name of Leopold. What other amazing things might be created when we encourage kids to let their imagination soar?

From fast food, microwaves, to automated teller machines, technology is changing the way we live. This invention guide will assist resourceful students who are dreaming of solutions to the problems of today. There are many books listed that offer ideas and inspiration to those who may invent the next wave of technological change. Many organizations are listed that support students throughout the entire invention process. There are activities for teachers to use with all students to engage their minds as they apply their ingenuity and creativity to solving real-world problems.

Invention Guide pdf (28 pages)



Ecology: A Closer Look at the World We Live In

The resources and activities listed in this guide will help create a “window on the world” to increase students’ understanding of our complex environment and the critical issues that all nations and people face. With over 6 billion people living on the Earth, and about 80 million more added each year, the population growth is exerting tremendous stress on the environment. The destruction of animal habitats due to human activities worldwide is by far the biggest cause of species extinction. Species are disappearing at the alarming rate of an estimated 30 to 75 per day. Overconsumption of resources by people who live in industrialized countries such as the United States, Japan, and France is a major problem facing future generations. Fossil fuels, lumber, soil, water, and other resources are being used by a fraction of Earth’s population but they are being consumed at a rate faster than Nature can replenish them. Pollution from human activities threatens plants and animal habitats, streams and oceans, forests and farms. Insecticides poison our waters while cars and power plants foul the air, both causing permanent global changes.

Understanding the functioning of the environment and the ecological principles is fundamental to our long-term survival. Studying environment and ecology is the ultimate applied science because it is completely interdisciplinary and our understanding, or lack thereof, will inform the decisions we make about managing the earth’s resources. These decisions, for better or worse, will determine the quality of our lives in the years ahead and the kind of world future generations will inherit.

These resources will help to provide students with awareness, appreciation, and understanding, and hopefully, a commitment to care about the environment. They can help to encourage creativity and originality in helping to solve some of these critical issues. The organizations listed can provide materials to inspire and empower students to become responsible, productive caretakers of the Earth.

Ecology Guide pdf (44 pages)