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Eureka! Inventors and Inventions

Let's look at inventions and inventors. Have a go at inventing something!

Science odyssey

Ernest Rutherford from New Zealand was an amazing Science inventor. He built a model of a carbon atom and went on to split the atom.

Have a go at building your own carbon atom with the Atom builder.

Crazy creations

Are you keen on making your own invention?

Read about the Goober Brothers’ crazy inventions.

  • Open a Word doc.
  • Design your own imaginative invention in any form … you choose.
  • Make up a name for your invention, describe it, draw diagrams or take a photo.

Renewable resources game

There are many great inventions that use non renewable resources.

Money money money

Ernest Rutherford is known worldwide as a scientist. He is one of a small number of New Zealanders who feature on our banknotes

  • Check out this $100 banknote
  • What did he discover?
  • Design your own banknote of another famous kiwi inventor using Paint or Word.

‘Mmm, he hāngi mā koutou?’

I ngā rautau maha ki muri, whakamāoa ai e ngā Māori te kai ki te hāngi.

Nō muri i te taenga mai i ngā moutere o Te Moana-nui-ā-Kiwa ki Aotearoa nei, ka kitea e te Māori he taiao hou, nō reira ka whakaritea ngā tikanga hou hei mahi hāngi

Harry Houdini – Harry Potter

What an inventor!

Boy did some crazy inventions take place at Hogwarts!

  • Click here to play one of Harry Potter’s favourite games Quidditch


What would be the implications (effects) of inventing an everlasting thing?

  • Open this  Word icon. Everlasting Activity (Word, 28 KB) .
  • Think of the good, the bad, and the interesting things about this and fill in the PMI table. ( Plus, minus and interesting).

Home design challenge

Global warming weather patterns are causing more extreme weather conditions. How might you design a better home to prevent the damage occurring in a tsunami, flood, hurricane, or an earthquake?

  • Design a home that uses alternate energy sources like solar energy or maybe involves underground construction to save heating energy.
  • Create a bird’s eye view, and a side view on to a Word document

Puzzling invention

Open the Word Finder template below:

Word icon. Word finder template (Word, 38 KB)

  • Print off a copy.
  • Some words have been done for you. Can you add your own words about inventions?
  • Fill in the spaces with any letters.
  • Give it to a friend to do.

Two famous ‘Ernies’

Meet ‘Ernie Rutherford’ and ‘Ernie Godward’ both famous New Zealanders.

Ernest Godward invented many useful household items around 1900. One of his first inventions was the eggbeater.

Ernest Rutherford was a science inventor. He made three discoveries that shaped modern science; his major one was splitting the atom.

  • Read about Ernest Godward
  • Read about Ernest Rutherford
  • Open a Word document
  • Design a poster about Ernest Godward or Ernest Rutherford.
  • Include the following:
    • Where he was born.
    • What he invented.
    • Choose one of his inventions and describe how he invented it.

Make a hovercraft

This clever invention, the Balloon Hovercraft is very handy.

Make your own hot air balloon

Method 1

You will need:

  • a lightweight plastic bag
  • paper band
  • thread
  • sticky tape
  • paper clips.
  1. Inflate the bag with hot air from a hair dryer (ask an adult to assist and take care).
  2. When it's full, release it, and try to measure how high the balloon flies, and time how long it stays in the air before returning.

Method 2

You will need:

  • a helium-filled balloon
  • a small bag of sand
  1. Get a helium-filled balloon and tie a small sand bag to the bottom.
  2. Adjust the amount of sand in the bag until the balloon floats just off the ground.
  3. How does the size of the balloon compare to the weight of sand in the sand bag?
  4. Write down your results.

Golden spiral

Fibonacci was an Italian mathematician and inventor who studied patterns in numbers. He recognised that there were lots of spirals in nature and worked out a mathematical formula to explain how spirals were a perfect form.

  • Open this link to see examples of spirals in nature
  • Open this Word icon. Golden Spiral template (Word, 482 KB)
  • On the same Word doc record five examples of the golden spiral around you now? They can be found everywhere, for example, in buildings, gardens, plants and animals.
  • You can record your spirals on the Word doc using images, drawings, or video.

Antarctic ice-vehicle

Invent a vehicle suitable for travelling to the South Pole to undertake environmental studies in Antarctica.

It needs to be able to withstand up to -80ºC, and contain supplies for two people for six weeks. You need to consider fuel, water, food, heating, comfort, and practicality.

Take a photo of your exterior and interior design.

Extra for experts

Now build a prototype. You may use any recyclable materials.

Chopper bikes, BMX, and mountain bikes

If it weren’t for a few clever creators in history we might still be on foot.

  • Click on the timelines to read and see slides of bikes.
  • Invent and draw your own your own bike using a drawing program on your computer.


Digital stories are mini movies created from still pictures. Using video editing software such as Pinnacle, Adobe Premiere, or iMovie you can put the images together to create a digital story.

Digital stories derive their impact through putting images, music, narrative, and voice together to give dimension and colour to characters, situations, and insights.

View the example created by some students in America about Martin Luther King.

  • Create your own digital story involving an invention for the future.
  • You will need to create a story outline that has a clear beginning, middle, and end.
  • Decide on the images you are going to use or create in Paint, Photoshop or any image editing software. You can also draw images by hand and scan them. (Note: If you are using photographs or images not created by yourself it is important that you have sought permission from the owner of the image to use it. This must be in writing.)
  • Write the text or narrative to go with your story and record.
  • Record sound effects to create and enhance mood and texture.
  • Put your story together in your video editing software. Take care to consider length of time an image remains on the screen and the transition type to create impact.
  • The maximum length of your digital story is to be one minute.

Kei ā koe te hiko (kaha)!

He Māori, he Kōtimana hoki a Peter Witehira. Nō te Taitokerau tōna whānau, ā, nō te iwi o Ngāpuhi

Nāna te pāteri motoka tē whakapau kaha i te wā e kā tonu ana ngā mea hiko pērā i ngā rama, mō tētehi pō (e kiia nei ko te Powerheat Battery) i tenea.

Tīmata ai ia ki te tapatapahi i ngā pāteri motoka i runga i te papa o tōnā whare waka.(Kaua rawa e mahi i tēnei tū āhua ki te kāinga, he waikawa mōrearea o roto, kei wera koe.)

Ngā takenga o Ki-o-Rahi

Pānuihia te pūrākau mō Rahi e whakamārama ana i ngā takenga o Ki-o-Rahi.


Sunshine system

Solar panels are a great invention because they use natural sunlight to generate electricity.

Ring ring!

Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone. Check this out:

Wicked wakas

Early travel and navigation of the Pacific Ocean required some feats of engineering.

Early Māori and Pacific Islanders were not only great sea voyagers they were excellent inventors. They invented their own navigation system based on the stars, sun and could use their canoe as a compass.

  • Read about the different types of waka.
  • Now design your own waka on a Word document.
  • Identify useful features including a navigation system. ‘Ka pai.’

Wallace and Gromit

Wallace and Gromit are great inventors.

Out of this world

Do you enjoy creative writing?

  • Open a Word document. Describe to an alien how something works (for example a toothbrush).
  • Design a time travel machine or an alien’s space travel craft.


Think about robots then tune in to the future.

  • Open a Word document.
  • Brainstorm a story plan.
  • Create an imaginary story about how robots will be used in the future.


New Zealanders are known for being innovative and great inventors.
Do your own research to find out three famous Kiwi inventors.

  • Choose one of the following famous Kiwi Inventors
  • Read about them.
  • Open a Word document and copy and paste relevant information from the webpage under the following headings:
    • What are they famous for?
    • How they achieved their invention?
    • A brief description of their background.
  • Reword the information in your own words.
  • Present your information with an interesting heading and border.

Te hāngi ōneherā me te hāngi ōnāianei

Jet boat jives

The Hamilton Jet is one of New Zealand’s most famous inventions.

Go to this page to find about the Hamilton Jet. Click on ‘Hamilton Jet” to read about this invention.


Paragliders are another clever air transport invention. Read about them here.

Paragliders rely on ‘thermals’. Click here to find out what a thermal is.

  • Look for thermals around the house. Make a little pinwheel and look for thermals over light bulbs, your toaster, even the oven vent when dinner is cooking.
  • Open a Word document and record the answers to the following.
    • How is your house or apartment heated?
    • Does it use hot air?
    • Heaters – where are the hot air vents placed and why?
    • Can you detect warm air rising from the heater?

Design a game full of inventions

In Harry Potter’s world there are some weird and wonderful games.

  • Open a Word document. Invent your own game aimed at your own age group.
  • Make sure you include the name of your game, the rules, the number of players, and how to play. It must include at least two inventions.
  • Now test your game by inviting some friends to join you to play.

The moment of discovery – re-enact the event

Ed really wants to show some exciting re-enactments of famous inventions that have happened in New Zealand’s history on wickedTV

  • Choose one of the following events to re-enact.
  • Choose some costumes but keep your props imaginary or simple.
  • Practice your act
  • Perform it for some family or friends
  • Take some images, either photos or a video.

Back to basics

How was fire discovered?

How was the wheel invented? Check out this webpage.

  • Read this webpage on the wheel
  • Now open a Word document
  • Create your own cartoon using any medium. Show how the wheel was invented.

Helpful robot

Ever thought about how useful a robot could be?

  • Open a Word document
  • Design a fire-fighting robot, or a robot to help someone who is confined to a wheelchair.
  • Build your model.

‘Ki-o-Rahi’ he hākinakina Māori tawhito

He āhua ōrite te kēmu Ki-o-Rahi i ngā hākinakina pērā i te whutupōro me te netipōro.

Nā ngāi Māori tēnei i tenea i mua i te taenga mai o ngā tāngata nō Ūropi.

  • Pānuihia te tuhinga mō Ki-o-Rahi kātahi, Word icon. ka rua pēhia i kōnei (Word, 21 KB) hei whakautu i ngā pātai.
  • Pānuihia ngā tikanga mō Ki-o-Rahi
  • Word icon. Tuhia ki tēnei tūtohi (Word, 30 KB) kia rima ngā ritenga, kia rima hoki ngā rerekētanga kei waenga i te whutupōro, i te netipōro rānei me te hākinakina o Ki-o-Rahi.
  • Waihangatia tāu ake kēmu e whakamahi ana i ngā tikanga e whai ake nei.
    • Mā ngā tama me ngā kōtiro
    • Mai i te 7 ki te 12 te pakeke
    • Kia toru ngā tīma, tokorima ngā kaitākaro kei ia tīma
    • Ehara tēnei i te hākinakina tukituki
    • Kōtahi te pōro, kia toru ngā koeko me ētehi atu taputapu kē (kei ā koe te tikanga)
    • Ka tākarohia ki runga i te papatākaro, ā, he tapatoru te āhuahanga.
  • Huakina tētehi puka kupu (word document). Tuhia ngā tikanga o tāu kēmu e whakamahi ana i ngā tikanga o Ki-o-Rahi o kēmu kē rānei hei arahi i ā koe.

Pakanga awakeri

  • Tirohia ngā tauira me ngā whakaahua o ētehi Pā tūwhatawhata mai i ēnei whārangi ipurangi.
  • Whakahoahoahia, waihangatia hoki tō ake tauira Pā tūwhatawhata mai i ngā taputapu ā kāinga, e whakaatu ana i ngā tenea hou e rua, e toru rānei, kua waihangatia e koe.