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Activity time: 15 minutes

Materials for Activity

  • Silly putty (TM)
  • Chocolate chip cookies
  • Velcro
  • Sticky notes
  • A Slinky (TM)
  • A bar of Ivory soap
  • Paper and pencils
  • Leader Resource 1, Oops!... WOW! Explanations

Preparation for Activity

  • Spread the items (Silly Putty, chocolate chip cookies, etc.) around the room, setting each on a separate table.
  • Place paper and pencils with each item. Write the name of each item at the top of a page.

Description of Activity

Gather the group and indicate the items you have placed around the room. Ask the group to identify them (which they likely will do quickly). Say:

You recognize these items because you have probably used most of them. But each one exists only because someone accidentally made it while trying to invent something else.

Form at least three small groups. Tell them they will have two and a half minutes at each of three tables to make up a theory of how the item on the table came to be accidentally invented. You might say:

What was someone trying to do? What went wrong? How did they realize they had actually invented something useful?

Ask them to write their theories briefly on the paper provided with the items. If another group has already written a theory on the paper, the new theory has to be different.

Send each group to a different table. Rotate the groups, allowing each group to visit at least three tables. Watch time carefully; you may wish to give 30-second warnings before each rotation.

Save five minutes to compare what groups have written and share, from Leader Resource 1, the real story about each invention.

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