The Need to Invent

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Science, Physical Science, Art, Mediums

Grade 3- 5


Students experience what it is like to be physically challenged and create an invention that will help them.


Send home the parent letter before doing this activity.
Contact parents and the school health clerk or nurse to find crutches and wheelchairs which may be used for this activity. Sleep masks and earplugs are usually available in drug stores.
Ask the students if they have ever had to use crutches or a wheelchair. Have them share what this was/is like and the problems they may have had. Explain to the students that inventions are often created to help people who are physically challenged. Discuss how these have helped them.
Tell the students that they are going to be teamed with a partner and that each pair of students will be given a temporary physical challenge. Let them know that each member of the team will spend time experiencing the challenge. Explain that the purpose of this activity is for them to design an invention that will make life easier if they have to live with this challenge forever. They will not actually make the invention but draw it instead.
Divide the students into pairs and let each team choose its physical challenge card from a bag. Have them read the information on the card and discuss what the rules will be during this time.
Complete the challenge.
Distribute drawing paper to the students and have them design their inventions. They should label them and explain how they will be used.
Have each team post its design on the bulletin board and explain it to the class.
Compare the inventions that were made for the same type of physical challenge.


  • copies of page 59 (one per student-see link below)
  • copies of pages 60 and 61 (enough for all students when divided into pairs-see link below)
  • one-inch (2.5 cm) wide, removable, adhesive bandage
  • soft earplugs used for swimming eye patch (black fabric or paper will do)
  • baseball bat
  • sleep masks
  • index cards
  • dark cellophane
  • cups of applesauce
  • drawing paper
  • wheelchairs
  • cloth strips (2 x 3 1/2 inches or 5 cm x 90 cm)
  • wide stretch bandage with fastener
  • spoons
  • crutches
  • ticking clock
  • tennis balls
  • disposable combs

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