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Exploring Scientific Innovation: Process, Product and Impact.

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Science +2 Age Levels Middle School (13 to 15 years old), High School (16 to 18 years old)

This collection consists of  three activities exploring different aspects of invention.  Students are invited to examine how inventions are linked, the impact of innovation on society, and the ethical implications of innovation.  Although designed to work as a unit, the lessons can be used individually.

Guiding Questions: What factors influence innovation in science? How do humans use science ? To what extent is science a group or individual process? Are all discoveries good or can they have a potentially negative effect?

In the first activity, students consider the process of invention by looking closely at images of inventions and exploring the connections between them. Students might consider which object was invented first, the microscope or the spectacles or investigate the relationship between glass, the telephone and the computer.

Students then view the short video on the manufacture of fiberglass, which looks at the process of innovating the glass manufacturing industry and the social and economic factors that propelled the invention of fiberglass. 

Time: 50 minutes.

Building on the student’s earlier thinking about innovation, in this activity they explore how new inventions shape our understanding of our world and their impact on our daily life.  Students are invited to explore images from artwork, advertisements, and leaflets and explain what each reveals about our changing world in both positive and negative ways.

This activity can be done individually, in pairs or in small groups followed by whole class sharing.

Time: 50 minutes, depending on the number of images explored.

The final activity delves into the ethics of invention and innovation, taking a broader look at the purposes and intended/unintended consequences of progress. This activity could also form  the basis for further research into other inventions and their implications.

 Time: 30-minutes





National Museum of American History


National Museum of American History

"New Type Edison" incandescent lamp

National Museum of American History

Alexander Graham Bell Experimental Telephone

National Museum of American History

Apple I Microcomputer

National Museum of American History


L. Holden


L. Holden

NEWARK, OH: The Invention: Mass-Production of Fiberglass | Places of Invention

Lemelson Center, National Museum of American History

Glow of the City

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Eyes of the City

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Mad Scientist And The Bionic Tomato Painting

National Museum of American History