Brainstorm a list of words that describe your topic and how it is used or a problem with the topic. Keywords in the same columns are synonyms to each other and can be combined with a Boolean OR to create a larger search set. Keywords in different columns are separate concepts and can be combined with each other using a Boolean AND to narrow down a search set to only those records who contain both concepts.
For instance, if a student was asked to create an activity for middle school students to engage them in biology, a list of keywords may look like this:
To search for books, go to http://www.lib.purdue.edu. Select the Catalog tab. Use your keywords to create a search strategy. For instance, if your topic is the digital computer, you might create a search string that looks like this: "(computer OR digital computer OR personal computer) AND culture. The books below might be good places to start:
Cutcliffe, S.H. & Reynolds, T.S. 1997. Technology & American History: Technology and culture. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Engineering Library 609.73 T2258 1997
Mack, A. 2001. Technology and the rest of culture. Columbus, OH: Ohio State University Press. Humanities (HSSE) Library 303.483 T22587 2001
Searching the collection of patents that have been issued in the United State can help you determine if your idea is truly new and novel. Many ideas receive patents and never make it to the market. Looking through existing Patents is called searching Prior Art.
Google has an interface that is intuitive and allows use of keywords to decipher what the device actually does, as opposed to what it is named.