Invention education programs and activities are helping motivate children's STEM and creative problem solving skills in schools, libraries and museums across the U.S. As these young inventors proceed through the inventing process, they find that they must use a range of resources, from print to digital to human, in order to find the information they need to complete that process successfully. Our interviews with 53 K-8 inventors found that these creative youngsters sometimes do not use the most reliable or accurate information sources to guide their work, causing a loss of time and effort or even failure.
To help remedy this situation, we have developed a simple, easy-to-use digital evaluation tool called Get SET! (Source Evaluation Tool) to assess the quality of the print and digital resources young inventors use while inventing. We recommend its use with 4th-6th grade inventors, although it may be children as young as 2nd grade or as old as 8th grade, based on their reading and comprehension skills.
The Get SET! tool, lesson plan and other related materials were pilot tested by invention educators (teachers and school and public librarians) and their 165 students from four states across the country. The teaching package of tested resources is now freely available from our website, The Innovation Destination (http://theinnovationdestination.net).
You may decide to teach students just the tool itself (#4), or use the tool with any or all of the other complementary teaching materials in the package described below, or use the tool with your own favorite resource evaluation lesson plans and materials.
The Get SET! Package contains:
Pre-Lesson Vocabulary Review. An educator may wish to review the vocabulary words in this printable resource with some or all students. prior to introducing the Get SET! tool, to ensure comprehension of the tool's 12 evaluation items.
"Evaluating Digital and Print Resources" Lesson Plan. A detailed, printable lesson plan that may be used to teach 4th-6th students about the importance of information resource evaluation when using non-fiction resources during the invention process. Or, you may choose to use a lesson plan you have already developed and tested or create a new one. It is critical to teach such a lesson before using the tool in order to demonstrate relevance.
"Evaluating Digital and Print Resources" PowerPoint Presentation. This provides a set of complementary visual slides that may be used in tandem with the lesson plan described above.
Get SET! Digital Evaluation Tool. This tool was designed for educators to use initially with a group of students in order to teach them how to use it and why information resource evaluation is important during the invention process. Once the content of the items is fully understood and the students feel confident in using the tool, they can use it independently any time, as needed. The tool is comprised of 12 items to assess in three categories: Useful, Reliable, and Kid-Friendly. After all 12 items have been assessed, the score of that resource is automatically generated, along with a brief report describing the resource's overall quality. In cases where the resource is not of high enough quality, the report will include a recommendation to find a higher quality resource to answer their questions and give them the information they need to make decisions about their invention.
Get SET! Evaluation Tool Video. This video features Hector, a young inventor, who takes kids through the items on the Get SET! tool. If you choose to use it, it may be most helpful to use immediately after teaching your lesson on resource evaluation and just before completing the tool for the first time with a group of students.
We hope you and your young inventors find Get SET! and companion materials helpful and fun to use.
*This project was funded, in part, by a grant from the Lemelson Foundation, whose mission is to improve lives through invention.
The Innovation Destination
The Innovation Destination was designed and evaluated by a team from the Center for Digital Literacy at the School of Information Studies, Syracuse University and developed by Data Momentum Inc, in partnership with the Connecticut Invention Convention, By Kids for Kids, New York On Tech, and over 70 school librarians and young innovators.