Inventions We'd Rather Not See

This activity will get your child's creative juices flowing, as he invents useless gadgets.

Required:

  • Your time only

The world of science and engineering brings us all kinds of great and useless things. But what about the truly useless or silly things that haven't been invented yet? Here are some ideas to get your kid's creative juices flowing.

"Complexity Is Beautiful." Simple might be elegant, but complex can be fun. Have everyone imagine, and then diagram or verbally explain, the most complicated device they can think of for turning on a light switch. Or opening a door. (Maybe the device begins with a cage that opens and frees a mouse, who scares an elephant with a rope tied to its tail that… you get the idea). You can make a game of it, too, by awarding points for each step in the complexity process or bonuses for exceeding a certain level (say, 25 steps).

"Machines in Search of a Need." What if you had an appliance that could simultaneously skin a potato, wash behind the dog's ears, wax your car, and (wait, there's more!) inflate the tires on your neighbor's bicycle! Ask everyone to come up with devices that do the greatest number of unrelated tasks; for an additional mind-boggler, have them come up with names for the new product.

Hurry—our car really needs waxing. And the dog needs his ears cleaned!

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