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How Invention Education Lets Students Solve Real Problems Using PBS NewsHour

Participate and share

Participate and share : Poster

Sunday, November 29, 11:00 am–12:00 pm PST (Pacific Standard Time)

David Coronado  
L. Clara Mabour  
Victoria Pasquantonio  

Students are natural inventors and want to help others. Explore current issues that matter to youth by PBS NewsHour EXTRA. Then, use the steps of the invention process to design an invention that solves a real problem in your community.

Audience: Curriculum/district specialists, Principals/head teachers, Teachers
Skill level: Beginner
Attendee devices: Devices useful
Attendee device specification: Smartphone: Android, iOS, Windows
Laptop: Chromebook, Mac, PC
Tablet: Android, iOS, Windows
Topic: Project-, problem- & challenge-based learning
Grade level: 6-12
Subject area: Career and technical education, STEM/STEAM
ISTE Standards: For Students:
Innovative Designer
  • Students develop, test and refine prototypes as part of a cyclical design process.
For Educators:
  • Create experiences for learners to make positive, socially responsible contributions and exhibit empathetic behavior online that build relationships and community.
For Education Leaders:
Empowering Leader
  • Inspire a culture of innovation and collaboration that allows the time and space to explore and experiment with digital tools.

Proposal summary

Purpose & objective

We will start out by exploring the meaning of invention education, including specific inventions that have personally impacted participants in the session.

David Coronado of the Lemelson Foundation will discuss the new invention education framework that was designed to explain how invention education can be used in schools and why it is needed, particularly how it will help “future-proof” our kids and our economy. Invention education encourages problem identification, experimentation, collaboration, and hands-on engagement to inspire and equip students to solve real problems.

We will then watch a short PBS NewsHour video from the "Innovation & Invention" series, describing an invention that has impacted a community in the U.S. and internationally. We will then look at how a teacher could use a news story to create a lesson about the invention process, "impact inventing," and the role that empathy plays in an inventor's life.

Working in breakout session teams, attendees will design an invention that helps solve a problem in their community, builds empathy and creates social change. The main idea is for participants to understand and experience the hope that invention provides. Another aspect of invention education is that when new inventions come to market, there is opportunity for economic growth.

The group will also dig into the invention resources: "18 Lesson Plans Teaching the Power of Invention" via PBS NewsHour Extra's invention education series based on news events and invention stories from around the world.

L. Clara Mabour, biology teacher at Northeast High School in Oakland Park, Florida, will discuss how she wrote one of the PBS lessons on how to design an inventive device to combat the plastic pollution problem that is devastating ecosystems world-wide. Clara will also discuss how she and her students received a Lemelson-MIT InvenTeam grant in 2017. Her InvenTeam students created the Mosquito Disruptor, a device that prevents mosquitoes from propagating in stagnant waters.

NewsHour's Victoria Pasquantonio will discuss her work with STEM teachers from across the country to build the "Invention Education" lesson series. Inspired by her work with these STEM educators, Victoria, a former social studies teacher, created PBS Learning Media's interactive lesson plan, "Design Apps That Help Others and Build Empathy," which utilizes Lemelson-MIT's invention education strategies.

A positive success story involved Victoria presenting on the role that current events play in the STEM classroom to a group of Texas educators last summer. After a full-day workshop for two days, STEM teachers created their own current events lessons, which were published on NewsHour Extra: "12 news stories that make STEM meaningful for students"

The invention ed series has been an exciting opportunity for PBS NewsHour Extra and Lemelson, as it led us to ISTE. Victoria and David presented last year at their first ISTE, "How Inventions Make a Real-World Impact." They were thrilled at the prospect of returning to ISTE20 to talk invention education once more. We have been in contact with several of the ISTE attendees from last year's conference. We have received helpful feedback and ideas on the invention education series moving forward, including having some attendees work together on building new curriculum.

Supporting research

An Investigation of Students’ Experiences in a K-12 Invention Program (Evaluation)

Case for Invention Education, and the Beginning of an Invention Education Movement

Makerspaces Highlights of Select Literature

More [+]


David Coronado, The Lemelson Foundation
L. Clara Mabour, Northeast High School/ PBS NewsHour Extr
Victoria Pasquantonio, PBS NewsHour

Victoria Pasquantonio runs PBS NewsHour EXTRA, NewsHour's teacher resource website for middle and high school students. EXTRA's resources focus on civics, STEM, arts as well as digital and media literacy. Victoria has been the project manager on EXTRA's 18-lesson "Invention Eduction" series, which allows students to solve real-world problems through invention. Victoria edits EXTRA's "Educator Voice" and "Student Voice" blogs and is always on the lookout for new writers, so don't hesitate to reach out to her @vicpasquantonio. Before switching careers, Victoria taught middle and high school social studies and English for 13 years.

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