More Inventions: The Self-winding Watch

More Inventions: The Self-winding Watch
Florence Harding: Science, Medicine, Inventions and tech

Skill: Elementary School
Time Required: Two to three class periods


   Inventors were busy during this time period: witness the self-winding watch, which was patented during the lifetime of Mrs. Harding.  This development was especially useful for the future waterproof watch concept: there was no need to disassemble the watch face in order to access and wind the watch.  These watches were wound by the wearer’s motion during walking.  A pendulum inside the watch moves back and forth with movement and ‘winds’ the watch.


Students will investigate the self-winding watch during the 1920’s and how it impacted modern society.  Students will also learn about the idea of inventions by creating and describing their own and how it could impact future society.

Materials Required:

Internet access (website suggestions listed in resources) Computer(s) (to allow student to research topic further) Word processor and/or a drawing program (or paper and writing utensil) Printer (for resources and final papers) Optional: research materials (books, articles, magazines)


1.  Introduce the lesson by asking students to think of something they do that they would like to be automatic.  For example, a robot to take out the trash every Thursday.

2.  Explain to students that during Mrs. Harding’s lifetime there were many advancements in inventions.  One was the self-winding watch.  (Use the website  to place on class overhead to show students images of watches.)

3.  Explain to students that inventions are usually developed because someone is tired of the status quo and wants to make life easier.  Describe to students how the watch developed into self-winding and the role it played not only during Mrs. Harding’s lifetime but also for the future.

4.  Ask students to think of something that they would like to apply the ‘self-winding’ concept that would make their life easier.  That is, ask them to develop a solution to a routine chore that could be automated.  Also remind students to think about how their inventions can impact the future.  Allow students to use their imagination.  (Depending on the ability level, you may want to pre-approve ideas so you make sure they understand the lesson and stay on track.) 

5.  For the assignment, have students describe the invention using words and/or pictures and describe how it could impact the future.

Extending the Lesson:

  • Have students present their inventions to the class or at parent teacher conferences.
  • If it is feasible, have students construct their inventions. (Middle or High school students could aid this process.)

Sources & Resources:



This lesson was developed by Marian Maxfield, Kent State University