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By Jessica Born / February 11, 2020

Inventor’s Day: Ways to appreciate, learn, and invent

Inventors are the coolest. Sometimes they are elevated to celebrity status and other times they’re hidden figures in history. Either way, for many, their impact is enduring.

I know we’re all very thankful for Thomas Edison (the light bulb and 1,000 other patents!), Henry Ford (the Model T and the assembly line), and the Wright Brothers (first successful airplane). And where would we be without the Internet (Nikola Tesla speculated a worldwide network very early on, MIT’s J.C.R. Licklider popularized the idea of a computer network, but it was Robert Kahn and Vinton Cerf who created an Internet precursor in the 1960s)?

Thomas-Edison-Quote-1366-0220That said, I think we’re all also grateful for the person who invented the toothbrush (William Addis), the modern pencil with eraser (Hymen Lipman), the modern coffee brewing method (Melitta Bentz), the dishwasher (Josephine Cochrane), windshield wipers (Mary Anderson), and toilet paper rolls (Seth Wheeler). If you’re from Kansas, this time of year, you’re generally especially thankful for James Naismith who invented the game of basketball and its first rule book and founded the University of Kansas’ basketball program. And, me, well, I’m personally also thankful for Ruth Wakefield who invented the chocolate chip (and subsequently the chocolate chip cookie).   

So, let’s celebrate the act of inventing and inventors! The first National Inventors’ Day was proclaimed in 1983 by President Ronald Reagan. It occurs every year on Thomas Edison’s birthday, February 11. It’s been designated as a day to recognize the new products, processes, and procedures inventors have contributed to our world.

Ways to Celebrate National Inventors Day with Your Class

  • Brainstorm the profile of an inventor.
    In small or large groups, have students generate characteristics that inventors often share (such as willingness to fail, persistence, creativity, resourcefulness, handiness, communication, collaboration, and awareness) and ideas on how to practice them. Additionally, have students identify times they’ve exhibited those characteristics and which ones they see in their classmates.
  • Challenge students to invent!
    Identify an issue in the school or community. Brainstorm and then design a possible solution; our Arduino Education kits, TETRIX Robotics building systems, and our assortment of makerspace supplies make a great starting point. Test the invention. Document and present it to the class.
  • Explore what it takes to patent something through the United States Patent and Trademark Office.
  • Invite local makers or inventors to the class to share their experiences.
  • Poke around on the National Inventors Hall of Fame® site, especially their blog. They’ve got some cool ideas and activities like these Valentine resources. And, if you’re local to the greater D.C. area, can we say field trip?!
  • Host an inventors’ wax museum. Have students select, research, and then portray the inventors (local or famous, their choice!). Have other classes or even family come visit the museum.
  • Sign up to receive a copy of the new Pitsco Maker Space catalog coming in March. Explore all kinds of raw materials, assorted supplies, ready-made kits, activities, solutions, and furniture. We’re ready to help you and your students make their mark!

Girl Power Changed Our Lives: Female Inventors

Also, as declared by the UN, February 11 is the International Day of Women and Girls in Science. Coincidence? No way! Women have largely contributed to society with some incredible inventions. We named a few above but there are so many more. We love these roundups:

  • Biography’s “5 Female Inventors Who Changed Life As We Know It,” which includes Stephanie Kwolek, who invented the polymers used to create today’s kevlar.
  • A Mighty Girl’s “Sisters in Innovation: 20 Women Inventors You Should Know,” which includes the likes of Grace Hopper, programming pioneer, and Hedy Lamarr, who helped create the tech that led to today’s GPS, Bluetooth, and Wi-Fi.
  • USA Today’s “Who invented the dishwasher, windshield wiper, caller ID? Women created these 50 inventions,” which highlights Florence Parpart’s electric refrigerator and street sweeper, Ida Forbes’s electric hot water heater, and Marie Van Brittan Brown’s home security system.

There are SOOOO many we could list and we’re already feeling inspired! Serious girl power changed life as we know it.

STEM for ALL

We believe in STEM for ALL. We’re working to support educators and schools with helping girls find and keep interest in STEM subjects and fields. We truly believe if you can see it, you can be it, and we’re on a mission to help make that happen. If you’ve not had a chance to explore our latest coding solutions, Code Cube™ or Smart Buddies™, give them a look. Have an all-girls robotics team inventing a solution to this year’s FIRST® Tech Challenge SKYSTONESM or USAR challenge? #STEMSquad strong and STEM Like a Girl with these blog posts. Ready to hit the race track with your creation? We’ve got inspiration for you from Merritt and Kenzie, the last reigning champs of the National TSA Dragster Competition.

Last note: Sometimes the right space can lead to the right invention. So, we want you to stay tuned for some very FUN Pitsco news! If you’re a southeast Kansas local, you’ve heard about, seen, and maybe even experienced the new, bustling Block22 in downtown Pittsburg. But you might not have seen The Pitsco Idea Shop – yet. It’s coming. And it’s coming soon! Inventions will be happening in our midst. We can’t wait for the community to see this fab lab, makerspace, and community innovation space in action. It’s beautiful and it’s going to be awesome.

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TOPICS: IN THE CLASSROOM, ADMINISTRATION & THOUGHT LEADERSHIP, IDEAS & INSPIRATION, Teacher Resources, Resources, Authentic Learning, Activities, Future Ready, 21st Century Skills, WorkKeys, STEAM, innovate, Workforce Development, Women in STEM

Jessica Born

Written by Jessica Born

Well, hey there! I’m the digital marketing manager for Pitsco Education. Marketing and special events have been my jam for about the last decade. I’m an alumna of Kansas State University and the University of Arkansas. I fill my Pitsco days with social media management and supporting video and web projects. My weekends are for time in the kitchen, real estate and home projects, and adventuring with my husband and our Dood, Garth. The best part of my role here is getting to bring creativity and organization to our efforts to connect with YOU!