Invention Motivation at MOTAT

May 24, 2016 at 4:38 PM

‘I do not think there is any thrill that can go through the human heart like that felt by the inventor as he sees some creation of the brain unfolding to success.’ – Nikola Tesla

The motivations for and processes of invention are hugely varied. From the Wright brothers’ obsession with flight, to Alexander Fleming’s ‘discovery’ of penicillin, the course of human creative endeavour can take unpredictable paths. The Year 3 students at the Boys’ School have been studying inventors and the impact they have had on our daily lives as part of their social science inquiry. In class and at home, they have been researching famous inventions and quizzing their grandparents about technological developments that have taken place over recent generations. The boys were fascinated to learn that bread was once sold unsliced, motor mowers haven’t always been motorised and milk came in glass bottles, and was delivered to your house!

The theme of the past informing the present, and the future, was continued on their trip to the Museum of Transport and Technology (MOTAT). After boarding the bus, the excitement began on the way to their destination as the journey took them past the Parnell train yard, with the engines and carriages an apt precursor of what was to come. On arrival, the boys were split into two groups for a session with a specialist MOTAT educator and to explore the exhibitions. In the MOTAT classroom, the boys were encouraged to think about what an invention is and what might inspire someone to invent something. By matching old products with new ones that serve the same function, such as a candle and lamp or ink quill and typewriter, they saw how inventions have developed over time. They were introduced to the great New Zealand history of invention, our number eight wire mentality, by looking at examples such as A.J Hackett’s bungy rope and Colin Murdoch’s disposable syringe. They also learnt about the difference between invention and innovation by examining the multitude of shapes and sizes that cameras and telephones have taken over the years, to the point where the two are combined!

In their exploration of the exhibits, the boys saw how video games have progressed as they played on a range of consoles and controllers. This was particularly beneficial as they will soon be inventing their own toy or game in class. Sitting on the top deck of a double-decker tram, the conductor talked to the students about the history of transport in New Zealand, and how it has changed significantly in Auckland. Once upon a time, the boys might have taken a tram to get to MOTAT!

Judging by the fervent discussions taking place on the bus back to school, the trip has definitely given the boys food for thought as they continue their inquiry and embark on their own inventions! 

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