Lesson idea: introducing inventions

Lessons that involve designing a new invention or product have cropped up at 5 of the 6 summer schools I’ve worked at. I came across this video the other day that gives me a new lead-in to the topic…

After 44 seconds the video starts to reveal a series of interesting inventions to help with routine/household tasks. The inventions include a plate smashing machine, an automatic thumbs up/down hand, and a bed separator!

First, let the students watch the video and make quick notes on each invention (there are 11 in total).

Get students to decide what they might call each product.

Then get the students to rank the products in order of how useful they are. This can be organised at a pyramid discussion (first alone, then in pairs, then groups) to generate more discussion.

After the students have shared their ideas, encourage them to look at their list again and discuss similarities and differences between the group of items at the top of the list and those at the bottom. Hopefully this will help them establish what makes a good/bad invention, or at least help generate ideas for a creative ‘design your own…) task later in the lesson!

If you have an alternative approach to the video and you need a summary of the inventions in it, here they are:

An automatic signature signing device with rotating paper slips

A machine that fires plates at a door…

An mechanical remote control button presser

A rotating shirt selector

An automatic credit card swiper

A teddy bear grabbing claw (like the ones at funfairs, so not something new)

An mechanical thumbs up/down machine (on loop)

A mechanical photo frame straightener

A toaster button depressor

A mechanical bed separator

A milk dispenser with a conveyor belt leading to the fridge 


Let me know what you do with the video, all ideas are welcome!

Categories: Lesson Ideas, videos

Tags: , , , , , ,

3 replies

  1. thanks, that’s a great video, quite eerie at times.

    i used it to follow a reading comprehension activity on more traditional inventions (linked here for anyone interested – https://eflnotes.wordpress.com/2013/01/09/runaround-50-british-inventions-scan-reading/)

    the contrast between the video inventions and the more known inventions worked well in the lesson flow


    Liked by 1 person


  1. Lesson idea: Introducing inventions (2) | ELT planning

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: