Opportunity and Invention

Middle school
Subject: Economics
Time: One class period
Preparation: Have class view "Mountain Bike" (Tape 2, Opportunity, Act 6, 5:38) and then conjure up an image of what they would invent that is new.

Choose three inventions that have changed our personal, economic, and political lives. Ask the class to discuss the selected inventions.

The computer, for instance, allows us to work at home: to rewrite our homework without typing or writing the whole thing over again. Economically, computers have changed almost every industry -- from banking to auto manufacturing. In the political arena, computers allow the media to call elections even before the polls close.

Ask the class to choose and research one invention that affects their lives. Why was it invented? What problem was it invented to solve? Who recognized the problem -- and the opportunity to solve it?

Follow up by asking students to name some problems that "somebody" should solve. Warm pop? How about "instant ice" -- like a reverse microwave? Heavy backpacks? What about a backpack with wheels, so when you have a lot of homework, you don't have to carry all those books? Or students might want to tackle some serious problems. What strategy or gadget could they invent to help the elderly or discourage drug abuse?

John Choice
Joseph M. Gallagher High School
Cleveland, Ohio

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