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)?
That 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.
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.
Take a look at our catalogs for inspiration. 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 theInternational 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:
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 Code Cube™ give it 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, previous champs of the National TSA Dragster Competition.
Last note: Sometimes the right space can lead to the right invention. 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. Inventions are happening in our midst. We’re excited for the community to see this fab lab, makerspace, and community innovation space in action. It’s beautiful and it’s awesome.
A few of Pitsco’s cool staffers contributed their knowledge and time to this post. We’re proud to have a great group of developers, writers, managers, builders, and creatives who can help bring the Pitsco Blog to life.