Check out this book about patent models. In it, you both learn about the role that patent models played in American history, and have a chance to do some (re)inventing of your own.
From the book description:
Patent models, working models required for US patent filings from 1790 to 1880, offer insight into–and inspiration from–a period of intense technological advancement, the Industrial Revolution. The Rothschild Patent Model Collection consists of thousands of patent models, many from the 19th century. This book features the most outstanding of these patent models, and offers deep insight into the cultural, economic, and political history of the United States.
This book not only catalogs hundreds of nifty models, but also shows you how to build your own replicas using Lego, 3D printing, and other materials and techniques!
Here is where you can get Inventing a Better Mousetrap: 200 Years of American History in the Amazing World of Patent Models