Past Forward

Activating The Henry Ford Archive of Innovation

Innovation Virtual Learning Series Recap: Week 13

June 26, 2020 Innovation Impact

We hope you enjoyed this week’s experiences focused on Be Empathetic. Were you inspired to create or invent something? Please share your story or photos with us on social media using #WeAreInnovationNation!

If you missed anything from our series this past week, check out the recordings and resources below. We hope that you will join us this upcoming week to explore new themes drawn from our Model i Learning Framework, focusing on why innovators need to Stay Curious.

What We Covered This Week
Why is it important to consider other's feelings?

STEAM Stories
Our STEAM story of the week was Cara’s Kindness by Kristi Yamaguchi, Olympic Gold Medalist and World Champion in Figure Skating. Kristi founded the Always Dream Foundation and helps promote early childhood literacy.  In this, her newest picture book, Cara the cat is having a hard time choosing the perfect music for her new skating routine but drops everything to help a friend in need. All Cara asks is that he pay it forward.

Then we learned about the many ways we combine Paper and Natural Materials with a lesson from  our early childhood curriculum, Innovate for Tots and a coloring page featuring Edison’s Bamboo Filament Lamp.  Watch the video here.

Innovation Journeys Live!

On Wednesday we hope you were able to join us for an Innovation Journey Live and our new Learn by Doing component.  Curator of Agriculture and the Environment at The Henry Ford, Deb Reid, shared the story of reclaiming the Rouge River after decades of pollution and how the Ford Rouge Dearborn Plant is caring for the environment in new and innovative ways.   Then Alex demonstrated how you can make your own river system!  The materials and directions are included below.  Watch the video here.

Be Empathetic: Caring for the Environment at The Ford Rouge

  • Rectangular baking pan
  • Wedge-type object to prop up one side of the pan
  • Dirt or sand
  • Plastic toys, sticks, grass, leaves that you have at home
  • Water
  • Cup

Build your own river system!
To help you understand how humans changed the shape of the Rouge River and how these shifts impacted the environment around the Rouge, use household materials to create your own mini-river system. Take it a step further by drawing a map of your river.


  1. Fill a baking pan with dirt or sand.
  2. Use your hands to cut (or dredge) a path through the dirt. Make sure to start at one end of the pan and end at the other.
  3. Use your wedge object to prop up one side of your pan. Only about an inch.
  4. Place toys (leaves, pieces of grass, etc.) along the sides of your path – these are your houses, buildings or crops.
  5. Fill a cup with water. Slowly pour the water onto the start of your river. Watch as the water flows.
    1. Where does the water go?
    2. Why do you think the water went that direction?
    3. Did some of your houses flood?
    4. Were your crops washed away?
    5. What can you do the prevent the flooding?
  6. After making some observations, “dredge” a new path for your river. Try again!
  7. Once you have made your river, draw a map!

For next week’s challenge, here are the materials you will need and the directions (watch Alex on Wednesday to help you complete the challenge!!)

Stay Curious
John McLoughlin JR.’s skillful use of new color printing techniques


  • Hard flat surface that can be used with paint. For example:
    • Upside down baking tray covered in aluminum foil
    • Cardboard covered in aluminum foil
  • Paper
  • Paint – washable, acrylic, or watercolor
  • Empty toilet paper roll
  • Popsicle sticks

Make your own print studio at home!
To help you understand how John McLoughlin and other artists created print works, use household items to create your own print studio.


  1. Ask your parents to help you find a paint friendly zone.
  2. Put small drops of paint all over your hard, flat surface. This will be your “tile.”
  3. Use the toilet paper roll to roll the paint evenly over the surface.
  4. Time to get creative! Create a design using your popsicle stick. Scrape away the paint to create pictures or words.
  5. Carefully set the paper on your design.
  6. Smooth and press your paper gently onto the tile.
  7. Slowly lift your paper up to see your design.
  8. Repeat!

Resource Highlight: Model i Primer+
In our continued efforts to help parents, students and educators during these times of uncertainty, The Henry Ford is providing helpful tips that assist parents in adapting its educational tools for implementation at home.

This week we are highlighting a lesson from theModel i Primer+ .

The five lesson plans from our Model i Primer+, named after the Actions of Innovation, are designed as opportunities for students to practice the Actions and Habits introduced in the Primer. Each lesson includes age-appropriate versions for grades 2-5, 6-8, and 9-12.  In keeping with this week’s theme of Be Empathetic, focus on the Define: Achieving Clarity activity, found here.

Check out the activities for Define: Achieving Clarity and share your experience and follow others as they engage in our digital learning opportunities using the hashtag #WeAreInnovationNation.

Parents and educators can learn more about Model i at:




Model i, innovation learning, educational resources

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