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PBS LearningMedia Digital Innovators and Innovative Thinking

December 11, 2015 - Posted in Education

The 2016 PBS LearningMedia Digital Innovators application period opens on December 1! This week’s featured PBS LearningMedia resources help to increase awareness of the program and give educators the resources they need to drive innovative thinking in their classrooms.

Innovators Can Build 21st Century Skills

Is there a process for innovation? In the following “Innovation 101” lesson plan from The Henry Ford’s curricula, your class hears from some of America’s most iconic innovators and learn how they spark innovation in the workplace and beyond.

Students will gather insights from Steve Wozniak, inventor and co-founder of Apple, as he explains how he discerns innovative thinkers and engineers on campus and supports their creative thinking. “Inside, they want to be an inventor and designer, and they are often very independent. They are harder to manage,” he says. “Give them a lot of freedom. Let them build devices for their home on their own. Give them some of the parts . . . and let them build what they think of.”

They’ll also hear from architects William McDonough and Toshiko Mori, as well as product designer Don Chadwick while learning more about the difference between invention, innovation and discovery. Use this lesson plan to help your class of prospective innovators build important 21st-century skills such as critical thinking, problem solving and self-directed learning! GO:

Integrated Science and Math Lesson

Join 7th grade integrated science and math teacher Zara Acosta as she leads her students through a catapult design project! Says Acosta: “The catapult project is a six-week project where we brainstorm a catapult, build a catapult, collect data, make improvements, and then have a final set of data that we then analyze.” The main question that drives this project is: “What variables affect the accuracy of each catapult?”

In this video from The Teaching Channel, students learn about the laws of motion and forces, probability, and engineering design, and then apply these principles to design their own catapult. Multiple firings of the catapult give students practice with data analysis, with the goal of improving the catapult's accuracy. WATCH:

Supported by ETV, PBS LearningMedia offers teachers more than 100,000 videos, images, interactives, lesson plans and articles drawn from critically acclaimed PBS programs and from expert content contributors like The National Archives and NASA. Educators in South Carolina are invited to sign up at


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