Charleston Day School
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News & Events

4th Grade Hosts Its Invention Convention

November 10

The 4th grade class hosted its annual Invention Convention in Gage Hall on Thursday, November 9. Students presented their prototype inventions to family and guests. Inventions ranged from sports gear to backyard tools. Each product addresses a specific problem that a student faces in his or her daily life. How can you solve the problem of misplacing your glasses? CDS Invention Convention student with a presentation boardCan you improve an alarm clock, so it is easier to get out of bed? These are some of the problems the 4th grade tried to solve. The process for designing each tool or gadget requires time and thought, and the students began the project several weeks ago.

The 4th Grade Invention Convention Process

The 4th graders followed the engineering process to prepare for the Invention Convention. They identified a problem and considered a tool that might solve that problem. They then completed research to locate any existing products that might address that same identified problem. Based on that information, students created their own design solution. They built a prototype, tested it, and tackled improvements.

CDS Invention Convention brainstorming phase teacher working with a student at a tableShannon Page, 4th grade science and language arts teacher coordinated the exciting project. “I love encouraging students to think about problems they face and then giving them space to come up with creative and innovative solutions. One of the challenges is the editing piece of the project. It is exciting to watch students look at their inventions objectively and embrace the revision step. One of the biggest lessons they get from this project is the ability to recognize things can always be improved.”

4th Grade Uses Public Speaking Skills

Another component to the project is the public speaking piece. Students not only prepared display boards, but they also planned presentations, so they could speak knowledgeably to convention attendees. 4th grader, Hartwell, noticed that talking about his invention got easier the more times he did it. “By the third or fourth visitor to my display, I did not need my notes any more. I felt more comfortable answering new questions. I knew my topic really well.”

CDS Invention Convention student with a presentation board talking to a grandparent

Learning from Challenges and Overcoming Obstacles

The engineering design process emphasizes open-ended problem solving and encourages students to learn from failure. Vicky Cardwell, CDS lower school administrator has experienced Invention Convention for many years. “I love following the students’ process and seeing new ideas each school year. The project is always a hit with students because students can solve a problem that is personal to them. They have a huge sense of accomplishment and gain confidence in their ability to work through obstacles.” The Invention Convention is a signature event for the fourth grade students and combines many skills that are essential for student success and success in life.

See other unique inventions and students engaged in the design process from past years here and here.

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