This lesson provides an introduction to the process of innovation using IBM’s THINK app. This introductory lesson is designed for use before the three other THINK units: Fight the Flu, (others TBD). The subsequent units delve into specific STEM content areas, as well as specific steps of the innovation process.
Although innovation is a broad term, the process of innovation is deeply rooted in the observation, analysis, and critical thinking skills students need to succeed. This lesson can be used to strengthen students’ science process skills, while meeting the “nature of science” and technology standards as well as fulfilling Common Core English Language Arts requirements.
The worksheet in this section requires students to demonstrate critical thinking skills. The higher order thinking required by this lesson may be challenging for some students, and a sample worksheet is provided to assist you in prompting students and scaffolding discussion.
The video portion of the lesson can be completed in one of two ways. Students can interview each other during class time in order to create the video, or you can ask students to complete the video creation portion of the lesson as homework. If students create the video outside of class, they can either interview each other or an adult. If you wish, students can spend time editing their videos, but to make efficient use of time, you can also allow students to simply create rough versions of the video.
THINK App Overview
To complete this lesson as well as the units that follow, it is important that you take time to explore the app on your own. As you navigate through the app, you should make note of questions students may have, examples you could use as prompts, and the general layout of the app so you can provide direction to students.
Taken as a whole, the app explores a deliberate approach to progress. This approach can be described using the following steps: Seeing, Mapping, Understanding, Believing, and Acting (SMUBA). The THINK film reviews this systematic innovation process and provides examples of the process in action. Begin by taking the time to review the THINK film. You should be prepared to highlight aspects of the film that you think will help frame class discussion.
After viewing the film, move on to the Seeing module. In the Seeing portion of the app, you can explore an interactive timeline of tools that have helped people capture and measure information about the world around us. These tools include examples ranging from a sundial that first allowed us to measure time to a Plasmon ruler that allow us to measure on an infinitesimal scale. While exploring the Seeing module, you should not only take note of the many different tools, but also notice that as you move further towards present day, the timeline becomes more populated with innovative tools and these tools allow us to see with increasing clarity.
The next module in the app, Mapping, provides examples of different types of maps, ranging from a classic geographical map to a hierarchy chart to a database. Note that the different examples are presented in a way that illustrates the many roles that maps can play. Throughout the app, both modern and historical examples are provided, allowing the user to see how the path to progress builds on past innovations. While reviewing this module, consider which examples can help students understand the importance of not only collecting but also organizing information. Additionally, think about how selecting the right type of map for certain data can change the information that is revealed.
Understanding provides case studies of models that have helped humans understand systems. Models are not just physical representations of an idea, but can include complex equations and simulations that help us make sense of interactions between different factors. The case studies in this module show how models were used in the past and present to answer big questions such as deciding how to increase crop yield or figuring out where crime is likely to occur. It may be useful for you to write down examples of models that may be pertinent to content you’ve recently covered in class.
Believing features videos of innovators. These short videos include not only an explanation of a problem the innovator faced, but also how they used data to gain support from others to confront the problem. The videos highlight the importance of not only understanding a problem, but using this understanding to garner belief that progress is possible. Students often believe that STEM innovators work in isolation, and the examples given in these videos are a great way of showing how important properly communicating information (your beliefs and understanding) can be in the process of moving the world forward. For this lesson, identify two videos that you think will resonate most with your students.
Finally, Acting uses a 3D image of a globe and a series of map pins to illustrate different ways that IBM has put the process of Seeing, Mapping, Understanding, and Believing into practice. This module is useful in thinking about the various fields and sectors where innovation can occur. Again, it is useful to identify examples that you think your students will find most engaging.
Innovation: A new product, system or method of doing something
SMUBA: This acronym refers to the innovation process of Seeing, Mapping, Understanding, Believing and Acting
Scientific Modeling: Physical, mathematical, or theoretical representations of information that help make abstract concepts more concrete in a way that reveals connections and behaviors of a system.
Engineering Design Process: This process refers to a series of steps an engineer takes when developing or modifying a product, system, or process. The process is not necessarily linear, but can include defining the problem and constraints, brainstorming designs that address this problem, selecting an idea to flesh out, planning and/or building this idea, testing the idea, and then refining the idea based on the test.