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Invention through Form and Function Analogy is an invention book for teachers and other leaders working with youth who are involving students in the invention process. The book consists of an introduction and set of nine learning cycle formatted lessons for teaching the principles of invention through the science and engineering design principles of form and function. An appendix contains sets of color, illustrated cards to be printed onto cardstock paper and used for sorting and sequencing activities during the lessons. This set of lessons has been field-tested with elementary and middle school students by teachers and was improved through the peer review process. The introduction section of the book addresses metaphors, analogies, and the use of form and function analogies in problem-solving and innovations. Human need related to invention and cultural universals are also discussed. Lessons address the following topics: 1) Identifying forms and functions of objects; 2) Forms and functions of the human hand; 3) Forms and functions of the body extended with tools; 4) Extending the body to serve basic human needs; 5) Tools related to forms and functions of the mouth; 6) Historical perspective of inventions; 7) Animal form and function analogies; 8) Inventors inspired by form and function; and 9) Combining SCAMPER with form and function to spur invention. Many charts are included to give teachers ideas for supporting student discussions. Teachers who field-tested the book with elementary and middle school students were uniformly positive about the lessons [25 tables, 20 figures, 7 card sets in the Appendix, 35 references.


Science--Study and teaching (Elementary); Science--Study and teaching (Middle school); Engineering--Study and teaching (Elementary); Engineering--Study and teaching (Middle school);

Document Type


Publication Date



Center for Educational Transformation, University of Northern Iowa


Cedar Falls, IA


Department of Curriculum and Instruction


Center for Educational Transformation


Educational Methods | Elementary Education | Science and Mathematics Education

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License



Invention through Form and Function Analogy



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