I am looking for a way to create a collaborative project on inventors and inventions with my 6th grade. We are not able to use our own email addresses and COPPA (children's online privacy protection act) limits what I can do with my 11 year old students on sites such as wetpaint. Any suggestions?

Tags: COPPA, collaboration, project

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We just finished a semester long study of The Inventive Process. On the site you can find the curriculum we used and all of our projects--The Invention Fair is Tuesday, we'll post the pictures of displays and prototypes after that. Check out The Pringles Project, we ended up doing a video conference with a school in New Jersey to share the results of the Pringle's packaging.
Off the top of my head, I would give small groups of students separate products that have undergone extensive innovations since the original model (the automobile, telephone, lightbulb for example) and have them research and present those advancements. They could research the men and women who were responsible for those innovations and advancements. I would follow that up by having the groups take a current product and use their imagination to advance that product to make it more useful for humans. They would give a final presentation/report on their innovation.
Docs.google.com would be a good way to do the online collaboration and keep the privacy of the students involved by not sharing the docs publicly. Alternatively you could make the document publicly editable, but not share the URL online so it would be extremely unlikely to be found.

Google do provide student email. Also, I'd recommend that you look at Diigo. You can then turn searching into higher order justification. You can create accounts for the students. They can collaborate in groups and also use the forum. Simple, not quite it's intention, but works - and builds stronger 'search' skills. For a collaborative classroom, have a look ar 21 Classes. You can then create log ins for students, and not have to use email at all. My wife has one for 1st graders http://gkids.21classes.com



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