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Discoveries and Inventions

To appreciate the power of knowledge and to show how discoveries and inventions have changed our lives

by Jan Edmunds

Suitable for Whole School (Pri)


To appreciate the power of knowledge and to show how discoveries and inventions have changed our lives.

Preparation and materials

  • Place a large box on a table; have a bottle with the word ‘medicine’ written on it and a large spoon (hide both out of sight).
  • An OHP would allow the children to read the poem (see Reflection below) with you.


  1. Say something like: Before you came to school this morning, perhaps you were awakened by an alarm clock, the central heating was keeping your house nice and warm, you turned on the light, you had a wash with hot water from the tap, you used the toilet, you had a hot drink from a boiling kettle, you may have listened to the radio or watched television, you may have used your computer or Game Boy. The washing machine may have been working away to clean your clothes, the dirty breakfast dishes put into the dishwasher, and perhaps you then jumped into the car and were driven to school or caught the bus. These are the things that some of you may do everyday, but have you stopped to think that someone actually invented all these things and how different our lives would be without them?

  2. Say that this morning you are going to demonstrate the most wonderful invention in the world. (Point to the box.) It could be in here. I wonder if you can guess what it might be? What do you think is in the box?
    (Pause for responses before offering a few more clues:) It’s a machine that can receive information, it can transmit sound, it can photograph things, it can move in very many ways and in different directions, it has its own built in computer, it can understand and decode messages, and like no other machine it can think for itself.
    (Slowly open the box.) Let me show you! Oh the box is empty! Where can it have gone? I can see it, it’s right here!

    Choose a child to come to the front.

  3. Say that this is the most wonderful machine of all. It has the most sophisticated computer in the world here inside its head. What is it called? (No doubt someone will soon supply the answer.) Yes, a brain that can decode messages and control the whole body. It can take in and give out information and is even able to think for itself.
  4. This machine, just like any other, is capable of going wrong or slowing down. It can feel unwell. So what do we do?
    (Produce the spoon and ‘medicine’.) We have to give it medicine. (Pretend to administer a dose!)

    Tell your helper not to worry, they don’t really have to have any nasty medicine, and then ask him or her to sit down.

  5. Many years ago doctors would put blood-sucking leeches onto the body to try to cure it. If an arm or a leg had to be removed, there would have been no anaesthetics. Surgery would have been very painful! Fortunately there have been and still are men and women who use their brains and devote their lives to inventing and discovering new ways of curing disease and easing pain. (If time allows, further discussion could be developed here mentioning such people as Edward Jenner who discovered a cure for smallpox, Marie Curie who discovered radium used in the treatment of cancer, Alexander Fleming who in 1928 discovered penicillin, etc. More Topic work could be developed.)
  6. People like these invented, discovered and produced ideas that have changed our lives. The discovery of fire enabled us to cook our food; the invention of the wheel changed people’s ability to move things from place to place and to travel. Ships enabled people to sail across the seas to other lands and to trade with other countries. What would life be like without electricity, radio, aeroplanes, cars, television, computers, scanners, printers and lasers?
  7. Who knows, one of you in this room may perhaps discover or invent something that will help others or change the way in which we live! You may become a famous scientist. All things are possible. We learn by discovering as much as we can about the world around us.

Time for reflection

With the aid of the OHP ask the children to follow or read the poem with you.


I am so very special there’s no one else like me,

My brain’s like a computer controlling me you see.

It signals to my body the things that I can do,

It stores up all the knowledge when I meet things that are new.

It tells me when I’m feeling hot or if I’m feeling cold,

It tells me when I’m feeling bad, to do as I am told.

It teaches me what’s right and wrong, it’s with me all my whole life long.

I know that I am special. Let’s hope that as I grow,

I’ll give my help to others by sharing what I know.

We thank you God for all the inventions and discoveries that have been made to improve our lives and for all the men and women who have made them. Be with those who are trying every day to improve the lives of others by curing disease and poverty. We thank you for our strong and healthy bodies and for all the things that you have given us.



‘He gave me eyes so I could see’ (Come and Praise, 18)

Publication date: June 2005   (Vol.7 No.6)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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