Odyssey of the Mind Curriculum Activity:
Extend-sive Thinking
Objective: To apply creative thinking to historical research in order to predict the future.
Students will learn: Patterns, observation, mechanical design and journal writing.

Prep Time

30 minutes

-- Class
-- Small groups

Household items, small parts to build extending devices
Activity 1
Have a group discussion about things that extend. For example, mechanical inventions that perform tasks like a crane, or other physical objects that stretch to reach something like an arm, or bridges that extend from one point to another. List as many as possible. Then, move on to non-mechanical extensions. These are less obvious, like members of your extended family, a teacher extending the due date on homework, or a bank extending credit to customers.

Extend the class's thinking to list and discuss as many examples of mechanical and non-mechanical extenders and their functions. Challenge the class to come up with the most creative examples of something that extends. Then have students keep a journal over a one-week period to see how many different extensions, mechanical and non-mechanical, that they notice in everyday routines.

Activity 2
Divide the class into groups in order to compare their lists of extending devices and the structures or meanings behind them. Look for patterns, or similar themes in the different devices, and then separate them into categories. Some categories could be: things that extend over water or air, things that add length, or an action that helps others. Do some perform the same tasks, but in a different way? For example, someone could extend gratitude by saying "thank you," or they could extend their arm to shake hands, both actions with the same intention. How will people give thanks in the future?

After discussing similarities in the extensions, identify the problem or need that is behind the category. Choose a category and research how the extending device has changed or improved over the years. First, name the problem or need, then how it was fixed or improved in the past. After that, compare it with how the extender has changed during present time. Finally, brainstorm ideas about how it will be improved in the future, then choose the most creative idea and design how it will work. This can be any mechanical or non-mechanical extension.

Activity 3
Each group will create a model for its chosen futuristic extending device and prepare to present it to the class as if their idea did become the next improvement. Have each group take over a portion of the class to teach a history lesson in a "futuristic classroom," where present day becomes the past. In their lessons, they should teach the class about their invention and how it works, then discuss the original problem or theme, and then explain the advancements in history that they previously researched. They will use the model to teach the class how their device works. Encourage "classroom participation" by having the students ask questions.