Students learn to INVENT

Gary Stecklein shows Marion second-graders the snow sled he invented with a breaking system. Second-graders at Marion Elementary School got first-hand exposure to the creative world of inventors and inventions.

As part of a two-week unit on that topic, two inventors from Wichita visited the class and showed them a couple of their creations.

Richard Freidenberger, a retired Boeing engineer, showed off his Safe-T-Rod, a fishing-rod holder that keeps the rod securely in place even when a big fish grabs the bait. He also showed them two electronic gadgets he created for use on aircraft.

A second inventor, Gary Stecklein, showed the students a snow sled he made with a braking system, and a boxed set of wooden-blocks that helps children understand a family genealogy.

Both men are members of the Inventors Association of South Central Kansas.

Finding the two real-life inventors took some research and inventiveness on the part of teacher Ginger Becker, who had asked a variety of people for possible leads.

?My dad was a test analyst at Boeing and he said, why don?t you call the inventors club in Wichita,? she said. ?They were excited about coming, and I thought they did such a good job with the children.?

Spearheading the two-week unit was Deidre Derk?sen, a Tabor College senior who took on the assignment as part of her student-teaching requirements.

?In the state of Kansas, to get your license you have do a Kansas Performance Teaching Portfolio,? she said. ?You do a unit for one subject. The thing that was coming up next was ?Inventors and Inventions,? so she let me have that to teach.?

The unit was part of an education requirement through the STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) curriculum.

Becker turned the planning over to Derk?sen.

?She just gave me the topic,? Derk?sen said. ?Then I did my own thing, I guess. We brainstormed a few things, but ultimately it was up to me to decide what was best for the kids.?

Richard Freidenberger explains how his Safe-T-Rod keeps fishing rods secure.The first week, students learned about one major American inventor each day: Benjamin Frank?lin, Eli Whit?ney, the Wright brothers, Thomas Edison and Alexander Graham Bell.

?We also learned about the scientific process of brainstorming, figuring out a solution, testing your creation and how sometimes things don?t work?like real inventors have to go through,? Derksen said.

The second week, students focused on becoming inventors themselves.

?We brainstormed problems they might have in their life, in the community, at home or at school,? Derksen said.

Students picked a problem they wanted to help solve, brainstormed some solutions, then wrote about their project.

?Once they were done with that, they could draw a picture of their invention and then present it,? Derksen said.

Students presented their inventions Friday by reading their description and showing the pictures they had made. Parents were invited to be there. A video of each child?s presentation was made for parents or other family members who couldn?t attend.

?She hit it right on target with everything that the kids were going to need to learn about this,? Becker said of Derksen?s leadership. ?I was excited because I could get a good foundation for myself.?

Derksen said her experience in the classroom has only strengthened her resolve to become a teacher.

?It definitely encouraged me,? she said. ?I thought everything worked out great and I was really proud of the students.

Written By
More from Don Ratzlaff
Big trucks, big fun
More than 400 people attended this year?s ?Big Truck Night? Thursday at...
Read More