Imagine Big
Leadership lessons on teamwork and creativity

Grades 6—12
About This Lesson Plan


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Lesson 2: Ideas That Changed the World

Students will explore and analyze how science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) ideas go from concept to implementation on a global scale.

Students will:

  • Research and create an accurate summary of one STEM innovation that affects our world today.
  • Track the origin and implementation of one idea from concept to implementation using the storyboard, a strategy employed by Disney innovators.
  • Share their storyboard with peers and assess others' work.

Common Core Standards
Determine the central idea of a text and analyze its development over the course of the text, including its relationship to supporting ideas; provide an objective summary of the text.

  • Write informative/explanatory texts to examine and convey complex ideas and information clearly and accurately through effective selection, organization, and analysis of content.
  • Conduct short, as well as more sustained, research projects based on focused questions demonstrating understanding of the subject under investigation.
  • Gather relevant information from multiple print and digital sources, assess the credibility and accuracy of each source, and integrate the information while avoiding plagiarism.
  • Present information, findings, and supporting evidence such that listeners can follow the line of reasoning and that the organization, development, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.


Storyboard graphic organizer
Post-it notes


Ask, “How do great ideas change the world?” As a class, trace the history of a famous innovation and its impact on our world. Use any of the following to spark a discussion:

After you've discussed famous innovations, introduce students to the Storyboard graphic organizer, a way to combine words and pictures to show ideas, patterns, and narrative. Invite them to experiment directly by distributing the printout and encouraging them to draw and write their ideas on paper.

Small Group
Divide students into small groups of three or four. Have each group select an innovation in the area of entertainment, medicine, technology, space exploration, social media or any other STEM field. Using background knowledge and research, students will complete a storyboard that shows how the innovation originated and expanded. 

As students work they should consider:

  • Who was involved in the creation of this innovation?
  • How did this idea get started? What events had to happen?
  • How did this idea spread? What events were involved in spreading this innovation around the world?
  • How do we know this idea has had a global impact? Where do we see this innovation today?

After 10 minutes take a moment to ask students to share what they've learned or storyboarded so far. Discuss:

  • How did each of these ideas start?
  • How has each idea had a significant impact?
  • How did you show the progression of these ideas through your storyboard?

After the discussion allow students to continue their work. Provide them with at least 40 minutes to research and storyboard. Depending on time you may want to allow students to work on this at home or over a series of class periods.

Storyboard Gallery
When all the storyboards are finished, post them around your classroom. Provide students with Post-it notes and ask them to walk around the room leaving comments and questions at each storyboard.

Extend the conversation about ideas with these activities:

  • Have students take their storyboards and Post-its home and write a one-page reflection that responds to the comments and questions their peers provided.

Helpful Hints

  • This lesson can be done in one long period or over two shorter periods, with the warm-up and research in the first period, and a walk-around and extension activities the second day.
  • Students may be grouped according to their strengths or their interests in science, technology, engineering or mathematics.
  • Students may want to cut up or rearrange the storyboard as they work through the process of arranging and rearranging their ideas.
  • As students cite information, provide them with a model for APA and MLA citing of Internet sources.
    o APA: Author (date). Article Title. Journal or Site Title. Date the information was received, from URL.
    o MLA: Author. "Article Title." Journal Title. Vol. Issue. (Year) Pages. Date retrieved information.
    o For more information on citing sources visit or

Use these resources as a starting point for research:

Field Extensions

See innovative concepts in action during these Disney Youth Education Series adventures:

  • Creative Thinking the Disney Imagineering Way at Walt Disney World® Resort examines the creative process of the world-renowned Walt Disney Imagineers. This experience is designed to demonstrate the benefits of forming a team with diverse talents to brainstorm and identify innovative solutions. Students may find a unique perspective and even be inspired by their classmates during immersive group interactions.
  • Designing a Disney Story at Disneyland® Resort teaches students about the complex components that work together to bring favorite Disney characters and stories to the big screen and Disney Parks. Students will study Walt Disney’s role in the history and processes used to create early animated features, as well as the innovative animation techniques used to bring the vision of modern storytellers to life.

Read detailed field study descriptions and enroll your students at

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