Today sees the start of National Science & Engineering Week in the UK. I’ll be celebrating it with books of course, and so the focus for the next couple of posts here on the blog is… INVENTIONS!
This afternoon I’m in school doing a book+craft session based on Wouter van Reek‘s Coppernickel: The Invention. After reading the book together, the kids and I will be making our own inventions using the piles and piles of recycling I’ve been hoarding since Christmas. I’ll be letting each of them loose with a roll of masking tape and asking them to invent something they’d like to see in their school. Should be chaotic and fun! To give you a flavour of the book you might enjoy this animation based on it:
With the look and feel of a notebook full of doodles and scribbled notes on ideas (just the sort of thing a budding inventor might carry around to record their bright ideas in), The Story of Inventions covers everything from aeroplanes to zips, writing to radar, and candles to crisp bags, looking at how they were invented, who came up with the idea, and how the ideas developed.
This is a book that makes you want to read it! Every page has a fascinating story on it; you’ll meet characters who were often either slightly crazy, or incredibly bright, or just plain brave. You’ll learn new words (eg celerifere, Gossamer Condor), you’ll learn about history, and you’ll end up looking afresh at the things around you which we often take for granted nowadays.
There are no long chunks of text in this book; rather, there are lots of short paragraphs of just a sentence or two. And everywhere you turn there are fun illustrations (drawings, rather than photographs) of inventions (some look like simplified technical drawings, others show the invention in development or use).
Content, illustration and design all add up to a book M has returned to again and again. I’ll certainly be recommending it to school, and especially for older kids who may be a little reluctant to read for pleasure.
Having been inspired by all the inventors we had been reading about, M wanted to invent something for herself. Something real, something she could actually use. We brainstormed a little to come up with something that she really wanted – and in the end decided on a bed-top table so she can draw and read big picture books easily in bed.
First she measured her bed…
…and created a mini model (you can see it on her duvet), out of cardboard.
We then raided our shed to find materials. M worked out that the table would need to be light so she could get it on and off her bed easily, and this is why we decided to use plywood. Once the table and sides were sawn, M sanded them and helped me screw them all together. She then painted a design on her table top, and eventually sealed it all with a couple of coats of PVA glue (a little more child friendly than wood varnish).
Her bed-top table is now in fully functioning use and is a huge hit with both girls! I’m just grateful M hasn’t yet asked to have her breakfast in bed on it
You might argue that rather than really inventing something new, M simply designed something new. I’m not going to argue between inventing and designing – either way The Story of Inventions got M excited and making something that she’s now very proud of. If design, rather than invention, really is your thing, then you should get hold of one of M’s favourite books at the moment D.E.S.I.G.N. by Ewa Solarz, illustrated by Aleksandra & Daniel Mizielinski – a fabulous book if you’re interested in innovative household items. We have to thank Zac who sent it to us all the way from Christchurch, New Zealand!
Whilst making M’s bed-top table we listened to:
Instead of making M’s own invention we could have:
What would you like to invent for yourself? What invention would make your family life richer?
Today I’m joining the weekly STEM roundup. This week’s host is Practically Paradise – I do hope you’ll pop over to discover more children’s books with a science, technology, engineering or maths theme.
Disclosure: I received my copy of this book from the publisher. This review remains my own and honest opinion.