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U.S. History 7: Innovation Project: Home

U.S. History project: Innovation




Innovation Project

Technology Project -- How have technological inventions changed American society and daily life?

For this project, you and a partner will be recreating an invention that has changed American society and daily life. Like an inventor, you will need to draw up a plan (in sketch and written form) for your invention model, apply for a patent, prototype, and lastly create the invention. You and your partner will also create a presentation detailing the history of the invention and its inventor. This packet outlines the essential questions, possible list of inventions, and instructions for each of the products.

Background Example - Eli Whitney’s Cotton Gin - Read this article and use the sketches as an example for your project.

Project Questions

  • How has the invention affected the way Americans live their daily lives?

  • Who invented it, and what problem was this person solving?

  • How have patents protected (or limited) American inventions?

  • What laws have been created or changed because of the invention?


  • Plan of Action/Investment Proposal - due Tuesday, April 18 (at the end of class)

  • Prototype of Invention Model - due Thursday 4/20 / Friday 4/21 (at the end of class)

  • Patent Application - due Tuesday 4/25

  • Final “Invention” Model - due Wednesday 4/26 / Thursday 4/27 (at the beginning of class)

  • Invention Research Presentation - due Thursday 4/27 / Friday 4/28 (at the end of class)

Invention Details:

The list of inventions below includes inventions that had major implications in transportation, communication, entertainment, or domestic life. You and a partner will choose one invention that you would like to research. (You may pick an invention that is not listed as long as it is approved by the teacher.) The two of you will also build one scaled model of the invention at one point in its history.


  1. Airplane

  2. Traffic lights

  3. Radio

  4. Camera (and photographic film) - Pinhole Camera

  5. Moving picture

  6. Phonograph

  7. Automobile

  8. Windshield wipers

  9. Telegraph

  10. Telephone

  11. X-ray machine

  12. Television

  13. Nikola Tesla induction coils

  14. Typewriter

  15. Air conditioning (Central Heating and Air)

  16. Sewing machine (Elias Howe)

  17. Washing machine

  18. Bicycle

  19. Motorcycle

  20. Radar

  21. Contact lenses

  22. Vacuum cleaner

  23. Zipper

  24. Nylon


Product #1 -  Plan of Action/Investment Proposal (due Tuesday, April 18 at the end of class)

  • For this assignment you and your partner will draw one sketch of the invention that you plan to recreate using graph paper [done as a group]

  • You and your partner will also write a proposal [in paragraph form] about the invention that you plan to recreate. Include the following information in your proposal:

    • The name of the invention

    • What materials you plan to use

    • What tools you plan to use

    • An estimate of how much it will cost to make

    • Why the invention will positively impact American life [think about what it has done historically]

  • You will turn in your drawing at the end of class and submit your proposal to Schoology [both you and your partner MUST submit the proposal]

Product #2: Prototype of Invention Model to receive your “patent” - due Thurs 4/20 or Friday 4/21 (at the end of class)

  • Using less sturdy materials, create a prototype of the invention model that you and your partner plan to create

  • All new inventions legally require a patent, so this exercise will be your way of getting official approval for your idea

  • This review will be done in the Steam Lab and shown to the teacher by the end of class.

  • Another group will review your prototype and you will review that group’s prototype

  • Be prepared to explain how you will create the invention

  • Below is the rubric that will be used to review the prototypes:


Exceeds Expectations (4)

Meets Expectations (3)

Approaching Expectations (2)

Plan - the group demonstrates a clear plan of action to how they will create the model -- the prototype shows what will be done


Structure - the prototype clearly suggests how the invention will work and how it will have structure


Total:             /8


Category: Communication

Product #3 - Patent Research - due Tuesday 4/25 (by the end of class)

  • In order to protect the intellectual property of your prototype/invention, you will need to apply for a patent

  • You will also need to define the following vocabulary words as a part of your research

    • Patent claim

    • Patent pending

    • Provisional patent

    • Royalty

    • U.S. Patent Office

    • Article I Section 8 of the Constitution (clause about patents)

  • You will do this as a group, but will submit to Schoology separately (meaning: both of you must submit the application to the Schoology assignment)

  • You and your partner will use the U.S. Patent Office’s website in order to find out how to apply for a patent and list the steps to be taken in order to file a patent

Product #4 - Final Invention Model - due Wednesday 4/26 or Thursday 4/27 (at the end of class)

  • This will be the final model of your invention

  • The invention should reflect any necessary changes from the prototype as well as a close resemblance to the REAL invention

[If you wish to take your invention to the next level, you can implement a moving piece, a mechanical piece, or an electrical piece, or something else that “works”.]


Product #5 - due Thursday 4/27 / Friday 4/28 (at the beginning of class)

For the presentation, we will set up a “gallery walk” in which you will have your presentation set up so that each member of the class will walk around to view the presentations.

You may use a visual presentation that is on paper or on the computer. (If the presentation is on the computer, please set up a loop for it to continuously play.)

Things to consider for the presentation:

  • Give a timeline of your invention (from the original invention to laws to various iterations)

  • Answer the essential questions

    • How has the invention affected the way Americans live their daily lives?

    • Who invented it, and what problem was this person solving?

    • How have patents protected (or limited) American inventions?

    • What laws have been created or changed because of the invention?

Options for presentation:

  • Podcast (3-5 minutes)

  • Video (3-5 minutes)

  • Visual display - on paper

  • Google Slides presentation (3-5 minutes)

We will vote on which invention and presentation is most worthy of investment. It will be a blind voting. At the end of class we will fill out a Google survey to vote for the top 2.

The criteria to consider for the voting are:

  • Accuracy to the original invention

  • Construction of the model

  • Accuracy in research

  • Effectiveness (or clarity) of the presentation

Contact a Librarian

We are your librarians and we look forward to working with you. We are generally available in our offices for drop-in help before school, during lunch or after school. 

Terri Kaplan
Head Librarian
Addie Matteson


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