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How do you become a great inventor?
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DISCUSS:

What kinds of inventions do you think we will have when you are an adult?

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Image & Video Credits

Mystery Science respects the intellectual property rights of the owners of visual assets. We make every effort to use images and videos under appropriate licenses from the owner or by reaching out to the owner to get explicit permission. If you are the owner of a visual and believe we are using it without permission, please contact us—we will reply promptly and make things right.

Other
Anurudh Ganesan by Google Science Fair
Back to the Future 2 by Universal via MovieClips
Cellphone teleporter by Star Trek
Defiant doors and cooridors by Star Trek
First Flying Machines - Failures and Mishaps Footage Archive by Footage Archive , used under Public Domain
From Tinkering to Invention - Ann Makosinski by Forbes
Harine Ravichandran by Google Science Fair
Josephine Cochrane by The Bowery Boys , used under Public Domain
Katharina Paulus by Wikimedia , used under CC BY
Katharina Paulus poster by German Patent and Trademark Office , used under Public Domain
Rocket powered ice skater fails by YouTube user Okrajoe , used under Public Domain
Shopping, sliding doors, customers by Pond5/Konstantin
Spot mini by Boston Dynamics
Overview
Grade K-5
Topic Current Events And Trending Topics
Focus Invention & Engineering
Print Prep
Activity Prep

In this mini-lesson, students are introduced to the surprisingly important role of “failure” in the process of developing solutions to problems. In the activity, Bobby Dropper, students try to save a falling bobby pin from a crash landing by inventing a paper device to slow the fall. They work like inventors, learning from their failures — and learning that failures are part of the invention process!

Preview activity

Number of students:
Ideas (Grades K-2) worksheet Print 30 copies
Inventing a Bobby Dropper (Grades 3-5) worksheet Print 30 copies
Save Bobby! Teacher Background worksheet Print 1 copy
Bobby Pin
Older students can use paper clips instead, but we’ve found that bobby pins are easier to use for younger students.
Details
120 pins
Paper (8-½ x 11”)
90 sheets
Scissors
30 pairs
Prep Instructions

We suggest students work in pairs. This activity is designed to encourage students to collaborate and help each other by sharing ideas.

Prepare Paper

You can use scrap paper for this activity. Use a paper cutter to cut your 8-½ x 11” sheets in half, making sheets that measure 8-½ x 5-½”. You should have enough pieces of paper so that each student has six pieces. If you don’t have time for this preparation, you can use 8-½ x 11” sheets, but be warned: students can go through a lot of sheets. We use half sheets only to minimize how much paper you need.

Review Extension

We have provided an extension video that demonstrates our invention and experimentation process. This will give you some insights into the process and may be useful for your students as well.

Overview
Grade K-5
Topic Current Events And Trending Topics
Focus Invention & Engineering
Slow internet or video problems?