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Wednesday, August 10, 2016

A Classroom Culture Where Students Can 'Patent' Ideas

How Classroom Culture Opens Up When Students Can ‘Patent’ Ideas

Katrina Schwartz | August 8, 2016

Building a catapult that can hit a target at one, three and five meters is a core project of Ben Smith’s engineering class. When the project is assigned, groups get to work inventing a mechanism that will meet the objectives, often coming up with ingenious ideas. But when Smith noticed his students were increasingly asking to work in the hall, he realized they were trying to protect their ideas. If one person solved a tricky issue, other students would just copy her. So Smith decided to introduce a patent system in his classroom.
“We want kids to be collegial, but we also want to reward kids who have a good idea,” Smith said. Smith has been teaching for 27 years in the same room at Red Lion Area Senior High School in Pennsylvania and has earned a reputation as a hard, but fair teacher. He says when he introduced the patent system five or six years ago, it reinforced a culture of entrepreneurism, where students expect as much from themselves as Smith does.

“They’re very protective of their work,” Smith said. He’s not sure if that’s because the girls at his school are powerhouses in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM), or if it’s because he explicitly teaches about the many instances in scientific history when men stole their female colleagues’ ideas and passed them off as their own. Either way, the girls hold far more patents than the boys, and when the school’s STEM team won a regional competition it was due in large part to two female leaders on the five-person team, Smith said.


<more at; related articles and links: (Create a culture of innovation using patents in the science classroom. June 15, 2016) and (Purdue opens up intellectual property rules for students. February 8, 2013)>

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