Attributes and Skills of Innovators

Format
Let's Talk Science

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Students explore the attributes and skills that can make someone a successful innovator.

Summary

  • Students will make inferences about an innovator’s attributes and skills based on text and video sources. 
  • Students will recognize how attributes and skills help someone find innovative ways to solve problems.
  • Students will identify their own personal attributes and skills. 
  • Students will reflect on how their own attributes and skills could help them be innovators. 

Setting the Stage

Anyone can be an innovator. Innovators use their unique experience, attributes, and skills to find creative ways of solving problems. Identifying the attributes and skills that helped another student become a successful innovator at a young age may empower other students to consider themselves as innovators. Reflecting can help students consider how their own attributes and skills might help them become an innovator. Students may also think about what skills they want to gain to help them find innovative ways to improve peoples’ lives. Emphasizing that innovators have many different sets of attributes and skills can help students realize that the innovators’ diverse points of view help them solve problems in new ways. 

In this lesson, students learn about an innovator who used her attributes and skills to create a device that solved a problem. Students then reflect on how their own attributes and skills might help them become innovators. 

This is lesson 2 of 3 in a set that can be used sequentially or as standalone lessons. The suggested sequence for completing these lessons is:

  1. Light and Sound Inventions that Changed the World
  2. Attributes and Skills of Innovators
  3. Careers with Light and Sound

Note: While this lesson is part of a sequence of lessons about light and sound, it could be used to learn about innovators from any field.

Materials & Preparation

What To Do

Note: Students should have some prior knowledge about inventions involving light and sound before completing this lesson. This knowledge may come from the first lesson in this sequence, Light and Sound Inventions that Changed the World, or other learning activities. If students haven’t explored this topic, teachers could briefly introduce them to some commonly used inventions.

Part 1: Identifying an Innovator’s Attributes and Skills

  • Teachers could start the lesson by activating students’ prior knowledge about the impact of inventions involving light and sound. Teachers could ask students to list devices involving light and sound that they use frequently. Students may suggest devices such as the telephone, television, light bulbs, and others. 
  • Teachers could explain that all of these devices were invented by people who wanted to solve a problem. These innovators or inventors designed creative devices to solve problems or help people. In this lesson, students will think about what kinds of attributes and skills might help someone be an innovator.
  • Teachers could display the My Attributes and Skills reproducible and use it to introduce students to the terms attributes and skills. The drawing of the t-shirt represents attributes. The drawing of the backpack represents skills.
    • Teachers could tell students that attributes are qualities or characteristics of people. For example, being funny or hardworking are attributes. A skill is the ability to do an activity or task well. Skills are generally learned. For example, someone could learn the skill of playing piano or public speaking.
Outline of a t-shirt and backpack
The t-shirt represents attributes and the backpack represents skills (Let’s Talk Science using images by Elysart and Dedy Setyawan via iStockphoto).
  • To help students identify some of the attributes and skills of innovators, teachers could introduce students to an innovator through a video, book, or article. Teachers could introduce students to Ann Makosinski. The following activities involve Makosinski, but teachers could adapt them for any innovator. Ann Makosinski is a teenager who invented a battery-free flashlight that is powered with the heat from the human hand after realizing her friend wasn’t able to do homework because she didn’t have a source of light. 
  • Teachers could ask students to identify some of Makosinski’s attributes and skills. Teachers could record student ideas on the My Attributes and Skills reproducible for the whole class to see. Teachers could encourage students to provide evidence for their answers from the interview or video.
    • Students may suggest creative, persistent, curious, and caring as some of Makosinski’s attributes. Teachers could record these suggestions in the outline of the person. 
    • Students may list building, tinkering, designing and knowing how to work with electricity and heat energy as some of Makosinski’s skills. Teachers could record these suggestions in the outline of the backpack. 
    • Teachers could point out that there is not one set of skills and attributes that makes someone a successful innovator. Innovators find new ways of solving problems and have a huge variety of different attributes and skills. Makosinski is one example of an innovator. 
  • Teachers could ask students how Makosinski’s attributes and skills help her succeed as an innovator. 
    • Students may highlight Makosinski’s persistence and note that she had to make dozens of prototypes and push through many failures before she could get her invention to work. Students might also note that Makosinski did not have many toys as a child and learned tinkering skills to entertain herself. 

Part 2: What are my Attributes and Skills?

  • Teachers could explain that students will now think about their own attributes and skills. 
  • Teachers could have students work as a class to create two word lists, one of attributes and one of skills. The world list should be created somewhere that students can easily see, either on a whiteboard or virtual document that can be shared with students. Students should be encouraged to think broadly and brainstorm a wide variety of different attributes and skills that could describe themselves or their peers. 
    • Teachers should encourage students to try to frame attributes positively. For example, instead of describing someone as “stubborn”, students could list “persistent.”
    • Teachers could connect this brainstorming process with texts students have read. Teachers could encourage students to list attributes of characters that they are familiar with from a variety of sources.
  • Once the class has created an extensive word list, students could list and/or draw their own attributes and skills on the My Attributes and Skills reproducible. Teachers could circulate to help students identify and express their attributes. 
    • Once students have represented their attributes and skills, they could answer the reflection questions on page 2 of the My Attributes and Skills reproducible.
  • If they are comfortable, students could share their My Attributes and Skills reproducibles in small groups or with the class. 
  • Teachers could lead students in a concluding discussion using the following guiding questions. 
    • What did you realize about skills and attributes during this activity? 
    • What are some skills and attributes that many innovators probably have?
    • What skills do you want to gain? Why?
    • Why is it important for us to reflect on our own skills and attributes? How can this help us learn and grow?

Details

Assessment

  • Teachers could assess students’ abilities to identify character attributes from print and video sources based on their attribute and skill suggestions in Part 1. 
  • Teachers could assess students’ pre-existing knowledge of attributes based on their suggestions for the word lists in Part 1. 
  • Teachers could assess students’ understanding of attributes and skills based on their responses to the My Attributes and Skills reproducible. 

Assessment

  • Teachers could assess students’ abilities to identify character attributes from print and video sources based on their attribute and skill suggestions in Part 1. 
  • Teachers could assess students’ pre-existing knowledge of attributes based on their suggestions for the word lists in Part 1. 
  • Teachers could assess students’ understanding of attributes and skills based on their responses to the My Attributes and Skills reproducible. 

Downloads

My Attributes and Skills [Google Docs] [PDF]

Downloads

My Attributes and Skills [Google Docs] [PDF]