Pat Brackley

The 4th/5th grade Seminar classes in Sheridan, Wyoming used the retractable pole discussed in your TED presentation as inspiration for our own innovations.

Currently about 45 students are identified for the program, which meets for ½ day a week and serves high-ability children in our beautiful community. In Seminar we work on a yearlong interdisciplinary unit. Our goal is to introduce new content and provide more depth and complexity within that content. This year’s theme is change, and a big focus is on innovation. Besides learning about innovators and innovations of the past, we’re innovating, too – coming up with hundreds of new inventions and ideas. Last week we SCAMPERed the retractable pole. As you probably know, SCAMPER is an acronym. So far we have used the first 4 letters (substitute, combine, adapt and minimize/maximize) to come up with new ideas. During our creative thinking sessions, all ideas are accepted. Here are our retractable pole innovations.

I substituted what the pole is made of with:
-wood so that you could make a boat. It would be able to shrink or get larger. JB
-dragonfly wings so that it could fly you around. EH
-gummy bears so I never run out of a snack and can get more by extending it. LO
-a clockwork, so you can now tell time everywhere and it looks cool. TP
-hard plastic. That way I have a hitting stick that fits into my pocket. It would be useful to hit people on the go. WC (a nonviolent student )
-with glass. Then I would put lava lamp stuff in the tube. The result is a retractable lava lamp. PB
-with a weapon. You can carry it in your pocket and pull it out if there’s a dangerous moment. It could save your life. AG

I combined the retractable pole with:
-a gun barrel. Then when you’re shooting, your barrel could adjust to the size of a pistol or the size of a rifle or shotgun. TP-R
-licorice so it would enable me to have a small snack for the day without getting hungry. BB
-a chair. The chair legs can be adjusted to anyone’s height. JP
-trash to make trash small and fill landfills slower. TG
-food to feed the hungry. DH
-hooks so I could hang stuff on it. It could be a large coat hanger or a small earring hanger. PR
-an airplane so if it gets shot, a new plastic piece unrolls over the gap. AP
-a pencil so you can adjust to the size that you need. JC
-a table so you can eat anywhere you go without having to sit on the floor. KC-K
-a spring on the bottom of the pole so you can get around and it fits in your pocket. ML
-a door so people don’t have to duck. WB
-a shrink chamber so when I extend it all my action figures are shown on a button which I push to unshrink them and get them out, then drop it down the hole and it goes into its shrink pocket. IH
-a fan. You could use it to start fires. Instead of blowing into the fire, it could do that for you. PK
-a candle to have a longer or shorter wick. This will reduce the amount of candles made. AP
-suction cups and shoes with straps to make stable stilts. MB
-monkey bars so you could make a long or short line of monkey bars. SB
-a rubber claw on a wooden pole so in case electrical lines or anything electrical crashes, you can grab them safely without being electrocuted. GG
-a computer so it will be more portable. NB
-a bike so as the child grows, he/she just simply makes it their height (comes with 10 different sized tires). BP

I adapted the pole:
-for a soldier so it’s a retractable rack of ammo. OP
-for a plant to make an artificial stem to make it different heights. CS
-for a baker. You would flatten it, make it produce cake, and have cakes at the fair. TM
-for people in the Arctic so they have an adjustable ice tester. CM
-for a marine biologist. A camera would be on one end and a retractable net on the other. BS
-to have the blade type things that make a helicopter fly on it along with Kevlar straps on it so that, like with a parachute, you can fly! Only gliding/floating will be replaced with controlled flight! BR
-to a window by making mini blinds that would hang down from a window to keep out light and then simply push them up to let light in. CD
-for a magician. I came up with a trick in which the magician pulls a 12 foot pole out of his throat. ID
-for a Samurai so he can pull a sword out of his pocket. KM
-for a deep sea diver, so they can extend it to get air and still breathe. EF

I maximized the pole so you can:
-make different heads like a toothbrush or a shovel head and stick it on the end of the pole. GP
-make a slide. When you are finished having fun with this giant slide, you can just pack it up and store it in the attic. OT
-easily set up medical tents after a natural disaster. AD

I minimized the retractable pole:
-to help medicine travel easily into your body. You stick the tube into your mouth, but not too far back. Then you breath in and the air flow pulls the medicine back down in the esophagus where you swallow the rest. No more tasting the bad medicine. JM
-for a broom stick. This allows a “little person” to use it and be the right size and a “big person” to use it after the “little person.” The broom stick adjusts. AB
-and flavored it and changed it so it holds pills and other medicine while you are swallowing it. It retracts to the size of the pill you’re taking. SO
-to make earrings. This way you can choose how long or short you want your earrings. This will make it so that you don’t spend a lot of money on different sizes. AB
-so it can be a mini cane. The cane can be used for rodents or for doll house play. This would help the rodents so they wouldn’t have to lay down all the time when they get old. ME

In addition to these and other creative thinking ideas, we have been involved in a major research project to see what personality characteristics help innovators. We learned about historical innovators and then formed a hypothesis about the characteristics they possess that have helped them be successful. Our hypothesis is that they are creative, curious, determined, intelligent, and persistent. Now we’ve emailed a survey to innovators of today (one for each of the students) to see if our hypothesis is accurate. We’d like to thank Zach for participating. We are waiting for all surveys to return so we can see if our hypothesis is correct.
It’s wonderful to be part of a school district that values the needs of high-ability children, and encourages curriculum that develops innovative thinking.

(Ms.) Pat Brackley
Elementary Gifted Ed Specialist
Sheridan School Dist #2
Sheridan, Wyoming

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