GO IN DEPTH

Inventors and Inventions

Inventors and Inventions Photo Credit: Alexander Graham Bell Family Papers, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress.
Look around you. What do you see? A computer? A phone? Books? Clothing?

Once upon a time, none of those things existed. Someone invented each one of them. Someone saw a problem, and, through brainstorming and (usually lots of) trial and error, came up with a solution to it. Or they took someone else's invention and saw a way to improve on it or use it for something other than for what it had been designed. Or they created a process for completing an action more simply.

Some inventors remain on the tips of people's tongues. Thomas Edison, Alexander Graham Bell, Eli Whitney, and George Washington Carver are all well-remembered for their inventions. Others, such as Nikola Tesla, Richard Trevithick, Marion O'Brien Donovan, Buela Louise Henry, and Ramón López Irizarry, are less well known for their contributions to society.

Consider these resources merely a place to begin your journey into inventions and the women and men who came up with the ideas for them.
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Lessons

  • Inventions 2: The Impact

    Inventions 2: The Impact

    K-2  |  Hands-On
    In this lesson students focus on the process of inventing, particularly on what short- and long-term issues inventors must consider before developing an invention.
  • Build a Better Pencil

    Build a Better Pencil

    K-2  |  Hands-On
    This investigation uses a pencil to introduce the idea of planning and evaluating designs.
  • Thomas Edison for Kids

    Thomas Edison for Kids

    6-8  |  Audio
    By studying the inventions and reading the biography of Thomas Edison, students will develop a broader view of technology and how it is both like science and unlike science.
  • Leonardo's Machines

    Leonardo's Machines

    6-8  
    This lesson will highlight some of Leonardo's futuristic inventions, introducing the elements of machines.
  • Inventors and Innovators

    Inventors and Innovators

    6-8  
    In this lesson, students explore the scientific enterprise and the contributions of diverse people.
  • Temple Grandin

    Temple Grandin

    6-8  |  Video
    This is a lesson about being different and thinking differently. It focuses on the work of Temple Grandin, an animal behavior scientist who has autism, a brain condition of unknown cause that people are born with, and that makes them behave differently than other people.
  • Inventions of Necessity: Synthetic Rubber

    Inventions of Necessity: Synthetic Rubber

    9-12  
    In this lesson, students explore the relationship between societal needs and technological development by examining the history and making of synthetic rubber.

Tools

  • Invention at Play

    Invention at Play

    K-5  |  Interactive
    This site challenges you to explore, question, invent, and collaborate to make your own discoveries.
  • Tesla: Inside the Lab

    Tesla: Inside the Lab

    6-12  |  Interactive
    This resource explores the brilliant inventions of Nikola Tesla which include the radio and the remote control.
  • Technology at Home

    Technology at Home

    3-12  |  Interactive
    This site lets you go back through the twentieth century to find out when everyday items such as computers, TVs, and CD players first appeared in homes.
  • Tech Topics: Electricity

    Tech Topics: Electricity

    6-12  |  Interactive
    This site provides an introduction to electricity as well as a discussion about how electricity is converted into heat energy, light energy, and motion energy.

Science Updates

  • Wheelchairs

    Wheelchairs

    6-12  |  Audio
    In this Science Update, hear how exchanging technology with some of the world's poorest countries is helping to build better wheelchairs.
  • Rebuilt Language

    Rebuilt Language

    6-12  |  Audio
    In this Science Update, learn about how a recent movie spent money reconstructing a dead language.
  • Fab@home

    Fab@home

    6-12  |  Audio
    This Science Update explains how fabricators, devices like inkjet printers, can generate 3-D objects.

Collections

  • National Engineers Week

    National Engineers Week

    K-12  
    This collection of resources will encourage the budding engineers and interest those who aren't sure why engineering is relevant to their lives.

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