Guise-Richardson, Cai. Using Patents to Teach History. OAH Magazine of History, July 2010, pp. 45-48
Teaching with Documents: Lession Plans, U.S. National Archives and Records Administration, Lesson Plans by time period; search the site for patents and find numerous ideas. http://www.archives.gov/education/lessons/
MacMillan, Don & Thuna, Mindy. Patents Under the Microscope: Teaching patent searching to graduate and undergraduate students in the life sciences. Reference Services Review vol. 38, no. 3: 2012, pp. 417-2010
Patents can be used to Teach a variety of topics. The following are a sample of ideas:
The History Of...: Teach the history of an area by tracing select patents forward in time, such as the history of flight from the Wright Brothers first glider through time to jet engines; textiles or clothing overtime using the development of Nylon and "pantyhose" as a starting point
Ethics: Patents offer a host of ideas for generating dicussion on ethics: cloning of animals, patents on human genes, patents on genetically altered lab mice.
Company Research: What patents does a comany or corporate individual hold? Have the patents changed over time?
Pitch to an Audience of that time: Give marketing students a challenge. See how well they can identify a patent's potential target market and pitch to people of that time.
Legalese over time: Compare similar patents over time to compare language and how it has changed over time.
A Mystery to Solve: Use a patent as a vehicle for teaching about a particular period in time or a person. What were the cultural norms of the time? What was the problem being solved? Was the item considered a luxury? What became of the invention? Who was the inventor? Did they invent anything else?