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Inventions in Engineering

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Open to: Grades 3-5

Eligibility: CTY-level or Advanced CTY-level math score required

Course Format: Session Based. See calendar for session dates and application deadlines.

Course Length: 12 weeks (Early Fall, Late Fall, Winter, Spring, Early Summer, Mid-Summer)

Course Code: IEYS

Course Description


CTY’s Inventions in Engineering introduces young students to the world of inventors and inventions. It begins with a brief historical perspective of engineering and inventions, to help students recognize the inventions they use in their daily lives. Lessons on the scientific process and the fundamentals of engineering prepare students to complete the independent projects which are central to the course. Students use online forums to discuss their projects and learn how other students use the same materials to achieve different results. Students keep an “Idea Log,” a diary of ideas they will use as they complete their final project and presentation. The themes of problem solving and creativity are fostered throughout the course. This course does not have any synchronous class meetings, but students may schedule one-on-one virtual meetings directly with the instructor to answer questions or concerns.

Units include:

  • Introduction to Inventions
  • Characteristics of Inventors
  • the Scientific Process
  • Naming an Invention
  • Simple Machines
  • Aeronautics
  • Patents and Trademarks
  • Electrical Engineering
  • Vehicles

Videos from YouTube or other web providers may be present in this course. Video recommendations or links provided at end of videos are generated by the video host provider and are not CTY recommendations.

Materials Needed

This course requires the purchase of a Materials Kit and several common household items found in this Materials List. Please review the materials requirements before enrolling in the course and make sure to have all materials before the course begins.

Detailed Course Information

Course Details

Introduction to Inventions

  • Definition of Invention
  • Inventions vs. Discoveries

Characteristics of Inventors

  • Brainstorming

The Scientific Process

  • Scientific Method
  • Scientific Process: Clarence Birdseye
  • Everyday Design

Naming an Invention

  • Naming it after a Person
  • Naming it after its Function
  • Word Tricks
  • Naming it after Characteristics
  • Creating a New Word

Simple Machines

  • Work and Force
  • Lever
  • Pulley
  • Wheel and Axle
  • Inclined Plane
  • Wedge
  • Screw
  • Gear
  • Rube Goldberg
  • Buckminster Fuller & Geodesic Domes
  • Structures Investigation


  • Lift
  • Drag
  • Thrust
  • Gravity
  • Bernoulli’s Principle
  • Why Planes Fly

Patents and Trademarks

  • Definition of Patent
  • Utility Patent
  • Design Patent
  • Plant Patent
  • Definition of Trademark
  • Definition of Service Mark
  • Parts of a Patent
  • Chester Greenwood & Earmuffs

Electrical Engineering

  • Electric Circuits
  • Conductors
  • Insulators
  • Series Circuits
  • Parallel Circuits
  • Charles Goodyear & Rubber
  • Magnetism
  • Electromagnets


  • The History of Transportation
  • Transportation and Society

Technical Requirements

This course requires a properly maintained computer with high-speed internet access and an up-to-date web browser (such as Chrome or Firefox). The student must be able to communicate with the instructor via email. Visit the Technical Requirements and Support page for more details.

Zoom online virtual classroom
This course uses an online virtual classroom which can be used for instructor-student communication if the student has any questions about the course or curriculum. The classroom works on standard computers with the Zoom desktop client and also tablets or handhelds that support the Zoom Mobile app. Students will need a computer with the Zoom desktop client installed to watch any recorded meetings. The Zoom desktop client and Zoom Mobile App are both available for free download.

Students must use Adobe Acrobat Reader to fill PDFs in this course. The latest version of Adobe Acrobat Reader can be downloaded for free.