Invention & Design:

We refer to the curricular materials accessible via this page as active learning modules instead of case studies because they are more flexible and can be adapted to a wider range of classroom situations. Typically, case studies pose a problem that students are expected to try to solve in a brief period of time, then defend their solutions in a class situation. Our modules can be used in that way. They can also be used as extended units in a class, requiring students to do original research and even build prototypes illustrating their design ideas. Several of our modules can also be used in a sequence, as we do in an Invention and Design class and a course for gifted secondary students here at the University of Virginia.

Each module will eventually come with a teaching note, which will require password access because we do not wish students to browse them. E-mail us, identifying yourself as an instructor, if you wish to have a password. (See the telephone module for an example).

We invite you to explore these modules and imagine how you might adapt them to your classroom or management situation. We have tried to include examples of student projectss with each module, as well as evaluation information.(Again, see the telephone module for an example). Please contact us for suggestions and support.

A Solar Inventor
This module centers around the development of solar water heating. The study is based upon the story of real-life entrepreneur Al Rich of Virginia. Participants in this module take the part of venture capitalists who need to analyze the available data, reccommend any design improvements, and decide whether or not to "fund" development.

Telephone Module
This module involved the "re-invention" of the telephone, based upon the original patents of A.G. Bell. Practical exercise centers on the design and actual implementation of improvements.

Inventing for the Environment
This particular environmental module is designed to allow both secondary and post-secondary students to come up with their own ideas for technologies that will make a better world.

Library Search Strategies
Most of the modules call for some library research. This link takes you to a set of materials that assist you in developing a library search strategy and carrying it out.

Future modules
Brief descriptions of planned active learning modules under development.

Samples of Student Work

Examples of student work from both secondary and post-secondary classes on Invention and Design.