Posts Tagged ‘inventions’

Kid Inventors’ Day


Top right: Photo by garryknight on Foter.com / CC BY
Bottom right: Photo by Vanilla and lace on Foter.com / CC BY
Top left and bottom left: CC0 Creative Commons


January 17 Is Kids Inventors’ Day!

Benjamin Franklin had countless accomplishments. He is well known for inventions such as bifocal eyeglasses and the lightning rod. But did you know that he invented the first swim flippers at age 12? On Franklin’s birthday January 17, take some time with your students to recognize the achievements of kid inventors. Inventing allows kids to be creative and scientific. It helps them solve problems and see the world around them in different ways. Kids invented water skis, earmuffs, the trampoline and the Popsicle.

Ralph Samuelson–the young inventor of water skis. He invented water skis at age 19.
See page for author [CC BY-SA 2.5], via Wikimedia Commons

According to the Kid Inventors’ Day site “500,000 children and teens invent gadgets and games each year. These innovations help make our lives easier – and more fun!” This site includes tips for kid inventors, books, and links for more information as well as teachers’ guides.

Inventing also incorporates all aspects of STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math). What types of problems can your students solve with these innovation principles?

Kids often think in ways that adults don’t so one British man had several kids’ drawings manufactured into real and often whimsical products. For some fun and inspiration check out Inventors! to see the inventions come to life.

And finally, SIRS Discoverer offers biographies and articles about all sorts of inventors and inventions. Students can also learn about the inspiration for Kid Inventors’ Day: Benjamin Franklin.

What are some things your students have invented? Tweet us photos using #ProQuest #sirsdiscoverer

Don’t have SIRS Discoverer? Request a free trial.

First Sales of Coca-Cola: May 8, 1886

The first glass of Coca-Cola was served on May 8, 1886, in Atlanta, Georgia. Dr. John Stith Pemberton was a physician and pharmacist who made and sold medicines, photographic chemicals, and cosmetic products in his state-of-the-art laboratories. Among these were a popular perfume called Sweet Southern Bouquet, and a patent medicine known as French Wine Coca. It was advertised as a “nerve tonic, a mental aid, a headache remedy, and a cure for morphine addiction.” The product contained wine and coca leaves from South America and was served at pharmacy counters.

Old Coca-Cola Sign [public domain] via Library of Congress

Old Coca-Cola Sign [public domain] via Library of Congress

In 1886, Atlanta experimented with an early prohibition law. Since Pemberton’s drink was made with wine, he needed to change the formula. He experimented in his home laboratory to create a new drink that was sweetened with sugar instead of wine. By May 1886, his new formula was ready. Pemberton carried a jug of syrup down the street to Jacobs’ Pharmacy, where it was sold as a soda fountain drink for a nickel a glass. The beverage was later named “Coca Cola”–from its two “medicinal” ingredients: extract of coca leaves and kola nuts. Although the name was used in the marketplace starting in 1886, the Coca-Cola trademark was not registered in the U.S. Patent Office until January 31, 1893.

Ticket for free glass of Coca-Cola, believed to be the first coupon ever. <br/> By Coca-Cola [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Ticket for a free glass of Coca-Cola, believed to be the first coupon ever.
By Coca-Cola [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Dr. Pemberton never realized the potential of his invention. In failing health, he gradually sold portions of his business to various partners. In 1888, just before his death, he sold his remaining interest in Coca-Cola to Asa Griggs Candler, an Atlanta banker, real estate developer and manufacturer of patent medicines. Candler’s genius was in marketing and promotion. In order to get customers to try the product, he created the first coupon, which offered a complimentary glass of Coca-Cola at any fountain. Between 1894 and 1913 an estimated 8.5 million drinks free drinks had been served, and by 1895 Coca-Cola was being sold in every state.

An Original 1915 Contour Coca-Cola Prototype Bottle Designed by Earl R. Dean. By Gavinmacqueen [public domain] via Wikimedia Commons

An Original 1915 Contour Coca-Cola Prototype Bottle Designed by Earl R. Dean. By Gavinmacqueen [public domain] via Wikimedia Commons

Consumer demand increased even further in the summer of 1894 when the first Coca-Cola was bottled in Vicksburg, Mississippi. This ultimately led to another brilliant innovation–the unique and iconic bottle. Before refrigeration, soft drinks were kept in coolers of ice. Competitors used similar bottles, and the paper labels often fell off as they soaked in ice water, so consumers often couldn’t distinguish the real thing. So in 1915, the company asked bottling partners to design a new bottle.

In the design brief, they called for A bottle which a person could recognize even if they felt it in the dark, and so shaped that, even if broken, a person could tell at a glance what it was.The winning design was submitted by the Root Glass Company of Terre Haute, Indiana. Ironically, it was mistakenly based on the shape of a cocoa pod, which is NOT one of the ingredients of Coca-Cola.  The naturally occurring minerals in the sandstone of the local cliffs gave the glass bottle its distinctive green color.

If you want to find out more about the history of this iconic American beverage, view the ProQuest eLibrary Research Topic page on Coca Cola, or visit these websites available on SIRS WebSelect:


Celebrate Inventors!

“Name the greatest of all inventors. Accident.
Mark Twain (pen name of Samuel Langhorne Clemens) (1835-1910),
who earned three U.S. patents for his inventions.

“To invent, you need a good imagination and a pile of junk.”
Thomas Alva Edison (1847-1931),
who earned a record number of 1,093 U.S. patents.

Inventions are the ultimate expression of creativity that offer real contributions to the world. And studying inventors is a great way to teach students the practical value of expressing and harnessing their creativity! Let’s take a look at some inventors and their innovations.

Many people are familiar with some of America’s most famous inventors–Alexander Graham Bell (telephone), Eli Whitney (cotton gin), Thomas Edison (light bulb) and Orville and Wilbur Wright (airplane). Two of America’s Founding Fathers were also prolific inventors: Benjamin Franklin (bifocals, lightning rod and many others) and President Thomas Jefferson (iron plow), who was also the first administrator of the American patent system when the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office was founded in 1790. Abraham Lincoln is the only U.S. president to hold a patent for an invention. He invented a tool to lift riverboats stuck on sandbars, and received Patent #6,469 on May 22, 1849.

Edison's Electric Lamp Patent

Thomas Edison’s electric lamp patent drawing and claim for the incandescent light bulb
(public domain) via Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress.
Reproduction Number LC-USZ62-97960


Here are a few lesser-known but equally important American inventors, and the contributions they made:

Katharine Blodgett: The first woman to be hired as a scientist at General Electric invented non-reflective or ‘invisible’ glass in 1938. The invention became very useful in the photographic, optics, and automotive industries and in consumer products such as picture frames and camera lenses.

Jack Kilby: In July of 1958, the Texas Instruments engineer conceived and built the first integrated circuit (microchip). Ten years later, Kilby also helped build the first popular machine to make widespread use of the chip–the hand held calculator.

Theodore Maiman: On May 16, 1960, the physicist working at Hughes Aircraft Company shined a light on a synthetic ruby crystal and invented the first functioning LASER (Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation) in the world.

Stephanie Kwolek: One of the few women chemists at DuPont in the 1960s, her work led to the development of Kevlar, a fiber best known for its use in bullet-resistant vests.

ProQuest SIRS Discoverer is a multidisciplinary database for elementary and middle school learners and educators. The Spotlight of the Month covers timely, curriculum-related topics including: an Events Calendar that features notable birthdays, holidays and anniversaries; a Visual Literacy feature that offers a highly-visual graphic with corresponding critical thinking questions; and In the News highlights an important current issue with an age-appropriate article and graphic to stimulate thought and discussion.

To learn more about inventors and their inventions, check out the all-new ProQuest SIRS Discoverer’s Spotlight of the Month for August.

ProQuest SIRS: National Inventors Month

Alfred Nobel, Scientist and Inventor <br \> Copyright (c) The Nobel Foundation, via ProQuest SIRS Discoverer [Public Domain]

Alfred Nobel, Scientist and Inventor
Copyright (c) The Nobel Foundation, via ProQuest SIRS Discoverer [Public Domain]

We may not normally think of inventors and inventions in our day-to-day lives, but what would we do without them? Things we take for granted, like matches, paper, and odometers? Each one has a story. Each one was invented by someone, somewhere, and has made our lives easier.

Your students may wonder…who did invent matches? Well, an American pharmacist named John Walker accidentally discovered matches in 1826. And what about paper? More than 2000 years ago, a Chinese man named Cai Lun created paper. And odometers…who invented the first one? Turns out it was Benjamin Franklin!

Every invention has a story that students may want to investigate further. Like what is the history of the computer? Who was the first to use a cell phone? Who invented the windshield wiper? Most people know that penicillin was an accidental discovery, but what other inventions were accidents, or even mistakes?

August is National Inventors Month, a great time to delve into curiosities about inventors and inventions. SKS is full of stories of innovation and creativity, highlighted in this month’s SKS Spotlight of the Month. Students will learn a bit about National Inventors Month and find articles on inventors and inventions. They can even quiz themselves on the invention of windshield wipers. Perhaps they will become inspired and you will have some aspiring inventors in the classroom!