An invention is the creation of something that didn't exist before. It can be a simple gadget, a novel process, a new material, or a complex machine. It requires creativity and imagination to be an inventor. People invent for a variety of reasons. Some invent in order to meet basic human needs. Other invent to fulfill their own creative desires. Many inventions are inspired by social or economic reasons--by the desire to make life easier and more comfortable or by the need to make money.
Inventions play a part in our daily lives by providing us with the things we need to live comfortably and healthily or by saving us precious time and effort as we carry out our daily tasks.
Sample some of the following activities to learn more about inventions and inventors.
The following are places to go (some real and some virtual) to find out about inventions and inventors.
Go to the Gallery of Obscure Patents and learn about the Gravity Powered Shoe Air Conditioner and other creative inventions
Smithsonian site allows you to search by name or subject
Travel to the Invention Dimension and check out their inventor of the week
An extensive list searchable by name of inventor, the invention, date or decade
List of inventors and inventions throughout history
Take the opportunity to get to know Leonardo da Vinci. He was a remarkable man. From this website, you can see sketches and explanations of many of his inventions
Scotch tape was invented in 1930 by banjo playing 3M engineer Richard Drew
Meet Richard James. He invented the Slinky in the 1943 by accident. He was trying to develop a spring that could help keep sensitive ship-board instruments steady at sea. He knocked some of these experimental springs off a shelf, and was amused by the way they "walked" down, rather than just falling
Learn more about Velcro and its inventor, George de Mestral. One day he went for a walk in the woods and we he came home, he noticed that his dog's coat and his pants were covered with cockleburrs. His inventor's curiosity led him to study the burrs under a microscope, where he discovered its natural hook-like shape.
Find out how the invention of barbed wire by Joseph Glidden changed the history of the American west and midwest
The Chinese were the first to invent ketchup which was called ke-tsiap. It was a made of pickled fish, shellfish, and spices. Find out who invented peanut butter. Did George Washington Carver or John Harvey Kellogg invent it? Have students research how other popular foods were invented like potato chips
Discover how scratch-and-sniff items were invented
Explore this list of the top 20 achievements of the 20th century and learn how engineering shaped a century and changed the world
Find out how the Minoans were great innovators and were ahead of their time
If teflon is not supposed to "stick", how do they make it stick to the pan when the manufacture cookware? Find out
Discover the origins of the keyboard commonly used today.
Learn about the invention of paper and its long history
Learn more about who invented the telephone and how it was done
Find out about the invention of the earliest roller coasters and how their design has changed over the years. Have students research the physics behind roller coaster design.
You choose the invention and then find out who invented it and when. The electric hair dryer was invented by Alexandre Godefoy in 1890. The watch was invented by Peter Henlein in 1509
- Casey, Susan. Women Invent: Two Centuries of Discoveries That Have Shaped Our World. Chicago, Ill.: Chicago Review Press, c1997.
- Clements, Gillian. The Picture History of Great Inventors. New York : A. Knopf, 1993.
- Haskins, James. Outward Dreams: Black Inventors and Their Inventions. New York: Bantam Books, 1992.
- Hudson, Wade. Five Notable Inventors. New York: Scholastic, c1995.
- Jeffries, Michael. Inventors and Inventions. New York: Smithmark Publishers, 1992.
- Kozar, Richard. Inventors and Their Discoveries. Philadelphia, Pa. : Chelsea House Publishers, c1999.
- Lomask, Milton. Invention and Technology. New York: Scribner's; Toronto: Maxwell Macmillan Canada; New York: Maxwell Macmillan International, c1991.
- McKissack, Pat. African American Inventors. Brookfield, Conn.: Millbrook Press, c1994.
- Noonan, Jon. Nineteenth-century Inventors. New York: Facts on File, c1992.
- Sullivan, Otha Richard. African American Inventors. New York: Wiley, c1998.
- Vare, Ethlie Ann. Women Inventors and Their Discoveries. Minneapolis : Oliver Press, c1993.