Fantastical, practical inventions

Invention

May is National Inventors Month, a month-long event celebrating invention and creativity. National Inventors Month was started in 1998 by the United Inventors Association of the USA (UIA-USA), the Academy of Applied Science, and Inventors’ Digest magazine to help promote the positive image of inventors and the real contributions they give to this world.

Here are a few things you can do to challenge yourself and bring out the inventor in you:

* Make a “What if?” list. Challenge yourself to change the way we do things. The article “Create an Invention!” on Education.com can help you get started.

* What inventions could you live without? Teach-nology.com has an interesting worksheet called “I Can Live Without It!” It can help you simplify your life, practice debating and persuasion skills, or just poke fun at some of the wacky inventions people come up with.

* Scholastic.com has a series of mini-lessons for kids: What is an invention? Inventions all around us! Top 10 inventions. And Inventions for the 21st century.

Just for fun, here’s a creative invention that turns snow into ice cream, drawn by my son when he was 7 years old. He’s only seen snow on “snow days” at school, but he really likes ice cream.

Ice Cream Maker

There are many inventions in the world today, but I’d like to share 5 inventions from books and movies that I think are pretty awesome and would change our lives:

1. Transportation: Transporters (Star Trek). According to the StarTrek.com database, a transporter is a “Transportation device that converts objects or persons to energy, sends that energy to the destination, and reconstitutes the objects/persons back into matter.” This would bring the world closer together. People and goods could travel immediately from one location to another. This is especially critical in emergency situations and remote areas.

2. Transportation: Resonating Bridges (Anne Bishop’s Ephemera” series). “Stationary bridges linked one or more specific landscapes and were usually a reliable way of crossing over from one landscape to another. Resonating bridges allowed a person to cross over to any landscape that resonated with a person’s heart.” In effect, you can either end up on the other side of the bridge or end up in a location where you feel more comfortable. These bridges can be dangerous, because you may not find your way home again; but they are also an opportunity to change your life and a way to enact justice.

3. Communication: Mirrors (Michelle Sagara’s Elantra series). Mirrors are functioning mirrors (you can see your reflection) and communication devices with audio, video, and recording functions when activated. They also act as Records (computers that accept verbal commands to search library records). There would be privacy and security concerns about mirrors, but they would be a great resource in criminal investigations and I like their practical nature (they hang unobtrusively on the walls).

4. Communication: Scrybowls (Robin Owens’ HeartMate series). A scrybowl is a communication device in the shape of a large bowl. It is functional artwork with audio and video capabilities, and can also transport small objects (plants and objects that can fit into the bowl). Obviously, larger scrybowls can broadcast larger videos and receive larger objects. Scrybowls let you control who has access to your number, whether to turn on the video broadcast, and what objects you can receive.

5. Self-defense: Whipswords (Arwen Elys Dayton’s Seeker). In a more perfect or controlled world, we wouldn’t need weapons; but if you do need to defend yourself… A whipsword is a weapon and training device that can shape itself into different weapons with just a thought, such as a whip, long sword, claymore, scimitar, or dagger. As a weapon, it will harm everyone except the bearer; as a training tool, it cannot harm anyone. It is made of an oily black substance that liquefies during transformations. I like the creativity, quick-thinking, and versatility that you need to master the whipsword.

What inventions are you most grateful for? What inventions do you wish you could use today?

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