Thomas Edison Invented…

Thomas Edison grew up at a time when children went to work to help support their families. At age twelve or thirteen, he sold newspapers on the train that ran from his hometown, Port Huron, Michigan, to Detroit.

In his free time, Thomas like to read all about science and technology. He also liked to experiment with chemicals. He set up a laboratory in his basement. And he even conducted experiments in the baggage car of the train he worked on.

Young Thomas Edison (Wikimedia Commons)

At age sixteen, Thomas became a telegraph operator for the railroad. But he had to leave his job after a train accident was blamed on him. He then worked for the Associated Press at night. This job allowed him to read and work on experiments during the day.

Thomas Edison (Wikimedia Commons)

His first invention was an electric vote recorder. The recorder could be used by members of legislatures to count their votes on bills right away. But it was a failure. Thomas discovered that politicians did not want a fast way to count their votes.

Thomas’s first successful invention was a stock ticker that improved on earlier ones. His stock ticker let investors know quickly what was happening in the stock market.

Thomas Edison and his phonograph (Pixabay)

Thomas Edison’s first big invention was the phonograph. It recorded and produced sound that people could hear clearly. This invention made him famous all over the world. He became known as “The Wizard of Menlo Park.” Menlo Park was his research laboratory complex in New Jersey.

Thomas Edison and engineers at Menlo Park (Shutterstock)

Now it was time for his greatest invention, the incandescent light bulb. Inventors had tried for years to come up with an electric light bulb that would replace gaslight. But no one had found a practical way to do that.

First, Thomas set up the Edison Electric Light Company. Then he worked for years trying to perfect a light bulb. He failed many times until he tried a platinum filament. The light bulb burned for 13 1/2 hours. But Thomas wanted a bulb that would burn much longer and would be cheaper to make.

Edison light bulb (Shutterstock)

Thomas had been fishing with a bamboo pole made from bamboo threads. He decided to try a carbonized bamboo filament. And eureka, his light bulb lasted for over 1,200 hours. It was affordable too. Thomas demonstrated his light bulb by lighting up his Menlo Park laboratory complex.

Thomas Edison (Pixabay)

Thomas wasn’t satisfied just inventing a practical light bulb. He wanted to light up everyone’s home, business, and factory. He started the Edison Illuminating Company. Thomas’s first power station went into operation in Manhattan. It lit up a one-mile square area. It was only a matter of time until electric light lit up the world.

His other inventions include a motion picture camera, and a Kinetoscope to project the images on, and the first alkaline battery for electric cars. It was the forerunner of the alkaline batteries we use today. 

A quote by Thomas Edison (Shutterstock)

To learn more about Thomas Edison and his inventions visit: https://www.nps.gov/edis/learn/historyculture/edison-biography.htm

Books For Kids:

Timeless Thomas:

How Edison Changed Our Lives

By Gene Barretta

Thomas Edison and His Bright Idea

By Patricia Brennan Demuth

Illustrated by Jez Tuya

Who Was Thomas Alva Edison?

By Margaret Firth, Illustrated by John O’Brien

Young Thomas Edison

By Michael Dooling

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Benjamin Franklin Invented Swim Fins https://www.barbaralowell.com/ben-franklin-invented-swim-fins

Leonard Da Vinci Invented… https://www.barbaralowell.com/leonardo-da-vinci-invented

Ada Lovelace First Computer Programmer https://www.barbaralowell.com/ada-lovelace-first-computer-programmer

Books For Kids — Inventors https://www.barbaralowell.com/books-for-kids-inventors

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Books For Kids — Ben Franklin

Benjamin Franklin’s Wise Words

by K.M. Koystal and Benjamin Franklin, Illustrated by Fred Harper

Discover history through the eyes of one of the smartest, funniest, and coolest figures from America’s past. Ben gives sage advice on everything from good citizenship, manners,  friendship, and being happy. 

Ben Franklin & the Magic Squares

By Frank Murphy, Illustrated by Richard Walz

A funny, entertaining introduction to Ben Franklin and his many inventions, including the story of how he created the “magic square.” A magic square is a box of nine numbers. They are arranged so that any line of three adds up to the same number, even on the diagonal. 

What’s the Big Idea Ben Franklin

By Jean Fritz, Illustrated by Margaret Tomes

A fun historic tale by Newbery Honor-winning author, Jean Fritz! No matter how busy he was, Ben Franklin always found time to try out new ideas. A man of many talents, he was an ambassador, a printer, an almanac maker, a politician, and even a vegetarian (for a time.)

When I Grow Up: Benjamin Franklin

By Annmarie Anderson, Illustrated by Gerald Kelley

Benjamin Franklin is one of America’s most beloved Founding Fathers and a man of many talents. He is most well-known for discovering electricity. But he was also an author, and editor, a printer, and a diplomat. And he invented many things we still use today. This book takes the reader on an exciting journey from Ben’s childhood to his adulthood as a famous American.

Who Was Ben Franklin

By Dennis Brindell Fradin, Illustrated by John O’Brien

Ben Franklin was the scientist who, with the help of a kite, discovered that lightning is electricity. He was also a statesman, an inventor, a printer, and an an author. He was a man of such amazingly varied talents that some people claimed he had magical powers. 

Now and Ben: The Modern Inventions of Benjamin Franklin

By Gene Barretta

What would you do if you lived in a community without a library, hospital, post office, or fire department? If you were Ben Franklin, you’d set these up yourself. Franklin also designed the lightning rod. He suggested the idea of daylight savings time. And he invented bifocals. All were inspired by his common sense and intelligence. 

Benjamin Franklin (Giants of Science)

By Kathleen Krull, Illustrated by Boris Kulikov

Benjamin Franklin was a famous inventor and multitasker. He’s best remembered as one of America’s Founding Fathers. But he was also a scientist. His experiments led to important discoveries about the nature of electricity. He famously demonstrated that electricity and lightning are one in the same. 

John, Paul, George & Ben

By Lane Smith

Once there were four lads…John [Hancock], Paul [Revere], George [Washington], and Ben [Franklin]. Oh yes, there was also Tom [Jefferson], but he was annoyingly independent and hardly ever around. These lads were always getting into trouble for one reason or another. In other words, they took a few…liberties. And to be honest, they were not always appreciated. This is the story of five little lads before they became five really big Founding Fathers.

You may also like: Ben Franklin Invented Swim Fins  https://www.barbaralowell.com/ben-franklin-invented-swim-fins

Ben Franklin Runs Away

https://www.barbaralowell.com/ben-franklin-runs-away

The book descriptions used are primarily from the publishers.

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Louis Braille — The Boy Who Invented the Braille Alphabet

Louis Braille lived in the French village of Coupvray. Born in 1809, he was the fourth child of a harness maker and his wife. Louis was a bright and curious child. He especially enjoyed watching his father at work.

One day, three-year-old Louis decided to try out his father’s awl, a very sharp tool. Unfortunately, he injured his eye. It became infected and when Louis touched the uninjured eye, the infection spread, blinding him.

Louis Braille House, Coupvray, France

Louis’s family and a village priest helped him. His father made a cane so that Louis could walk without assistance. His sisters made an alphabet from straw so that he could learn letters. And the priest read to Louis and taught him to listen to the sounds of birds to recognize them.

Louis later went to school with sighted children and listened to and remembered the lessons. But for Louis, that wasn’t enough. He wanted to read books.

When he was ten-years-old, he traveled to Paris to attend the Royal Institution for Blind Youth. The school’s founder had created books with raised letters. But the letters were enormous with only a few sentences or less on a page. The books were not practical.

Then a French army captain named Charles Barbier invented a system of sending messages to soldiers on the field. His system used raised dots so that the soldiers could read the messages without light and not give away their location to the enemy.

The army seemed unimpressed, so Barbier sent his system to the Royal Institution for Blind Youth. Louis and the other students recognized right away that this system was not practical. The dots represented sounds not letters. They were difficult for the students to read.

Louis Braille’s Six-Dot Braille System

Louis Braille decided to adapt Barbier’s system and make it practical. He worked for three years to perfect it. By the age of fifteen, he had developed the six-dot Braille System we know today. Each letter of the alphabet uses a different pattern of raised dots. Louis’s system is used in every country in the world.

Braille


Books for Kids:

Six Dots: A Story of Young Louis Braille

By Jen Bryant, Illustrated by Boris Kulikov

Who Was Louis Braille?

By Margaret Frith

Illustrated by Robert Squier and Scott Anderson

Out of Darkness: The Story of Louis Braille

By Russell Freedman, Illustrated by Kate Kiesler

To Learn More Visit: http://nbp.org/ic/nbp/braille/whoislouis.html

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Ada Lovelace — First Computer Programmer

Ada Lovelace is considered to be the world’s first computer programmer.

Ada was born in England on December 10, 1815, the daughter of the famous and reckless poet Lord Byron. Soon after she was born, her parent’s marriage ended. Ada never saw her father again.

Her mother, Anne Isabella Milbanke had a great interest  in mathematics. Byron called her the Princess of Parallelograms. Anne Isabella steered her daughter away from poetry and into mathematics and science.

Ada Lovelace

Ada’s mother discouraged her imagination fearing that she might end up like her father. But Ada had a wonderful imagination. She decided that she would learn how to fly by studying birds’ anatomy. Ada made a set of wings. She wrote and illustrated her own book called Flyology and designed a flying mechanical horse.

Lord Byron

In 1829, Ada became temporarily paralyzed after having measles. She improved her math and science skills while bedridden. At age sixteen, restored to health, Ada was introduced to English society. She met famous scientists and became friends with the engineer Charles Babbage.

Babbage invented a machine called the Difference Engine. It worked like a giant calculator. He then designed a more complex machine he called the Analytical Engine. Babbage thought that the Analytical Engine would solve difficult mathematical calculations. The machine would then store these calculations. And it would also print them.

The Analytical Engine

Ada translated an article written about the Analytical Engine into English. She added her own notes. These notes contained an algorithm that would allow the machine to work. Ada’s algorithm is considered to be the first computer program.

The Analytical Engine was too expensive to build. But it is considered to be the first computer. And Charles Babbage is acknowledged as the “father of the computer.”

Charles Babbage designed his Analytical Engine to be capable of working with numbers. But Ada thought the machine had much greater possibilities. She envisioned it producing music, art, and writing, like modern computers.

Sadly, Ada died at age 36. Although she never met her father, she requested to be buried next to his grave in England.

To Learn More About Babbage’s Engines, Visit: http://www.computerhistory.org/babbage/engines/

Books For Kids About Ada Lovelace:

Ada’s Ideas: The Story of Ada Lovelace,

the World’s First Computer Programmer

by Fiona Robinson

Ada Byron Lovelace and the Thinking Machine

by Laurie Wallmark, Illustrated by April Chu

Ada Lovelace Poet of Science

by Diane Stanley, Illustrated by Jessie Hartland

If you like this article, then please consider sharing it and leaving a comment below. Thank you!

Leonardo da Vinci Invented…

Leonardo da Vinci painted two of the best known paintings in the world: Mona Lisa and The Last Supper. In addition to his magnificent work as an artist, Leonardo designed inventions that are familiar to us today, almost 400 years later.

Leonardo sketched and wrote about his inventions in notebooks. Most of his ideas could not be made into working objects during his lifetime. Engineering was a new science and many of his designs were technically complicated.

These are six of Leonardo da Vinci’s inventions:

In the Air:

Glider — Leonardo’s glider design looks similar to both a bird in flight and a modern hang glider. Leonardo studied birds as he worked on his design.

Helical Screw — This is Leonardo’s design for an early type of helicopter. Four men inside operated the screw. It would compress air to fly just like helicopters do today. 

Parachute — Leonardo imagined floating through the air using a parachute. Designed to be made of linen and wood, his parachute had a triangular shape.

Anemometer — Leonardo designed this instrument to measure wind speed. Anemometers are used at weather stations today.

Under Water:

Scuba Gear — Leonardo designed a leather suit with a head covering attached to two tubes. The tubes connected to an above water diving bell. The diver would breathe air from the water’s surface through the tubes. Today, scuba divers breathe air from the tanks they carry underwater. Early divers used Leonardo’s method.

On Land:

Tank — Leonardo turned again to the natural world for this design. A turtle shell inspired it. The tank’s design provided for a 360 degree rotation.  Four men inside would operate the tank with hand cranks while other men would fire the weapons. Modern tanks first appeared in World War I.

 

To see these and more of Leonardo da Vinci’s inventions visit: http://www.da-vinci-inventions.com/

Books For Kids:

Neo Leo: The Ageless Ideas of Leonardo da Vinci

by Gene Barretta

Who Was Leonardo da Vinci?

by Roberta Edwards, Illustrated by True Kelley

Leonardo da Vinci

by Diane Stanley

To Learn More:

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Books For Kids — Inventors!

Neo Leo: The Ageless Ideas of Leonardo daVinci

by Gene Barretta

In 1781, Thomas Paine came up with a model for a single-span bridge. In 1887, Adolf Eugen Fick made the first pair of contact lenses. And in 1907, Paul Comu built the first helicopter. But Leonardo da Vinci thought of all these ideas more than five hundred years ago! At once an artist, inventor, engineer, and scientist, da Vinci wrote and drew detailed descriptions of what would later become hang gliders, automobiles, robots, and much more. In Neo Leo, Gene Barretta shows how Leonardo’s ideas — many inspired by his love of nature — foreshadowed modern inventions, offering a window into the future.

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The Boy Who Invented TV: The Story of Philo Farnsworth

by Kathleen Krull, Illustrated by George Couch

Plowing a potato field in 1920, a 14-year-old boy from Idaho saw in the parallel rows of overturned earth a way to “make pictures fly through the air.” This boy was not a magician. He was a scientific genius. Just eight years later he made his brainstorm in the potato field a reality. He transmitted the world’s first television image. 

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Marvelous Mattie: How Margaret E. Knight Became An Inventor

by Emily Arnold McCully

With her sketchbook labeled My Inventions and her father’s toolbox, Mattie could make almost anything — toys, sleds, and a foot warmer. When she was just twelve years old, Mattie designed a metal guard to prevent shuttles from shooting off textile looms and injuring workers. As an adult, Mattie invented the machine that makes the square-bottom paper bags we still use today.

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George Ferris What A Wheel

by Barbara Lowell, Illustrated by Jerry Hoare

Have you ever ridden a Ferris wheel? You can see for miles! But when the inventor of the Ferris wheel, George Ferris, first pitched the idea, everyone thought he was crazy. A 250-foot bicycle wheel that goes around and around and can carry 2,160 people in train size cars at the same time? Can’t be done, they said. But George proved them wrong.

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George Crum and the Saratoga Chip

by Gaylia Taylor, Illustrated by Frank Morrison

Who invented the potato chip? George Crum did as a chef in a Saratoga Springs, New York restaurant in 1853. Who knew the potato chip was that old?

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Papa’s Mechanical Fish

by Candace Fleming, Illustrated by Boris Kulikov

Clink! Clankety-bang! Thump-whirr! That’s the sound of Papa at work. Although he is an inventor, he has never made anything that works perfectly. That’s because he hasn’t yet found a truly fantastic idea. But when he takes his family fishing on Lake Michigan, his daughter Virena asks, “Have you ever wondered what it’s like to be a fish? Papa is off to his workshop. With a lot of persistence and a little bit of help, Papa — who is based on the real-life inventor Lodner Phillips — creates a submarine that can take his family for a trip to the bottom of Lake Michigan.

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Ada Byron Lovelace and the Thinking Machine

by Laurie Wallmark, Illustrated by Amy Chu

Ada Lovelace, the daughter of the famous romantic poet, Lord Byron, develops her creativity through science and math. When she meets Charles Babbage, the inventor of the first mechanical computer, Ada understands the machine better than anyone else and writes the world’s first computer program.

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Eat My Dust! Henry Ford’s First Race

by Monica Kulling, Illustrated by Richard Walz

It’s 1901 and Henry Ford wants to build a car that everyone can own. But first he needs the money to produce it. How will he get it. He enters a car race, of course!

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A Weed is a Flower: The Life of George Washington Carver

by Aliki

Award winning author and illustrator Aliki tells George Washington Carver’s story in this beautifully told and illustrated picture book.

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Thomas Edison and His Bright Idea

by Patricia Brennan DeMuth, Illustrated by

Jez Tuya

As a curious child who was always asking questions, it’s no wonder Thomas Edison grew up to become a famous, prolific inventor. This easy-to-read nonfiction story follows Edison from his time in school to his career as a full-time inventor. Edison’s discoveries will fascinate and inspire all curious young minds!

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Who Were The Wright Brothers?

by James Buckley, Jr., Illustrated by Tom Foley

As young boys, Orville and Wilbur Wright loved all things mechanical. As young men, they gained invaluable skills essential for their success by working with printing presses, bicycles, motors, and any sort of machinery they could get their hands on. The brothers worked together to invent, build, and fly the world’s first successful airplane. These aviation pioneers never lost sight of their dream to fly and to soar higher!

The book descriptions used are primarily the publishers.

If you like this post, then please consider sharing it and leaving a comment below. Thank you!

Books For Kids — Founding Fathers

John, Paul, George & Ben

by Lane Smith

Once there were four lads…John [Hancock], Paul [Revere], George [Washington], and Ben [Franklin]. Oh yes, there was also Tom [Jefferson], but he was annoyingly independent and hardly ever around. These lads were always getting into trouble for one reason or another. In other words, they took a few…liberties. And to be honest, they were not always appreciated. This is the story of five little lads before they became five really big Founding Fathers.

Will You Sign Here John Hancock?

by Jean Fritz, Illustrated by Trina Scart Hyman

Everyone knows that John Hancock was one of the first signers of the Declaration of Independence. But not many know that he signed his name so large to show how mad he was about how the colonists had been treated. This witty book highlights little-known facts about this historical figure.

 

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Those Rebels, John & Tom

by Barbara Kerley, Illustrated by Edwin Fotheringham

John Adams & Thomas Jefferson were very different. John was short and stout. Tom was tall and lean. John was argumentative and blunt. Tom was soft-spoken and polite. John sometimes got along with almost no one. Tom got along with just about everyone. But these two very different gentlemen did have two things in common: They both cared deeply about the American colonies, and neither cared much for the British tyrant, King George.

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 Adams’s Family Stone Library, Quincy, Massachusetts

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Who Was Paul Revere?

by Roberta Edwards, Illustrated by John O’Brien

In 1775, Paul Revere of Boston made his now-famous horseback ride warning colonists of an impending attack by the British. This event went largely unnoticed in history until Longfellow celebrated it in a poem in 1861. So who was Paul Revere? In addition to being an American patriot, he was a skilled silversmith and made false teeth from hippo tusks! This biography brings to life Paul Revere’s thrilling ride as well as the personal side of the man and the exciting times in which he lived.

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The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere

George Washington and the General’s Dog

By Frank Murphy, Illustrated by Richard Walz

Boom! Bang! Guns fire! Cannons roar! George Washington is fighting in the America Revolution when he sees a dog lost on the battlefield. Whose dog is it? How will it find its master? Early readers will be surprised to find out what happens in this little-known true story about America’s first president.

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George Washington’s Teeth

by Deborah Chandra & Madeleine Comora

Illustrated by Brock Cole

From battling toothaches while fighting the British to having rotten teeth removed by his dentists, the Father of His Country suffered all his life with tooth problems. Yet contrary to popular belief, George Washington never had a set of wooden teeth. Starting at the age of twenty-four, he lost on average a tooth a year, and by the time he was elected President, he had only two left! In this reverentially funny tale based on Washington’s letters, diaries, and other historical records, readers will find out what really happened as they follow the trail of lost teeth to complete toothlessness.

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George Washington’s Teeth

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 Now & Ben: The Modern Inventions of Benjamin Franklin

by Gene Barretta

What would you do if you lived in a community without a library, hospital, post office, or fire department? If you were Benjamin Franklin, you’d set up these organizations yourself. Franklin also designed the lightning rod, suggested the idea of daylight savings time, invented bifocals and the odometer — all inspired by his common sense and intelligence.

bifocals

Bifocals Invented by Benjamin Franklin

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Thomas Jefferson Builds a Library

by Barb Rosenstock, Illustrated by John O’Brien

Imagine owning so many books that you have to build a library to hold them. Thomas Jefferson did. Ever since he was a young boy, Jefferson loved to read and collect books — hundreds at first, then thousands! Books on animals, politics, nature, history. Books in English, French, Greek, and Latin. Jefferson built his first library as a young man and kept on building throughout his life until his book collection helped create the world’s largest library — the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C.

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And the other John,  Paul, George and Ringo, too!

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The Beatles Were Fab (and They Were Funny)

by Kathleen Krull & Paul Brewer

Illustrated by Stacy Innerst

John, Paul, George, and Ringo inspired the world to sing, dance, scream — and laugh. In the 1960s, four lads from Liverpool found themselves on the roller coaster of Beatlemania. And what a ride it was! Their music defined a generation. Their hairstyles sparked a fashion craze. And their goofy sense of humor not only brought joy to their music — it also kept the Beatles going, no matter what fame threw their way.

 

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John, Paul, George and Ringo

The book descriptions used are primarily the publishers.

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Vivien Thomas Saved “Blue Babies”

In Tiny Stitches: The Life of Medical Pioneer Vivien Thomas, author Gwendolyn Hooks tells the story of how Vivien Thomas developed a life-saving medical procedure. The surgical technique allowed babies born with the condition tetralogy of Fallot, or blue baby syndrome, to live.

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Vivien Thomas

Vivien Thomas was born in 1910 into the segregated American south. He worked with his carpenter father saving money for college and dreamed of a career in medicine. But when the stock market crashed in 1929, he lost his savings.

Not giving up on his dream, he interviewed for a position at the Vanderbilt University Hospital. He would work with Dr. Alfred Blalock as a surgical research technician. Vivien was not told when hired that he would receive less pay than the white research technicians. His official classification was “janitor.”

Vivien quickly learned to conduct experiments independently. He became an indispensable assistant to Dr. Blalock. The doctor was then offered the Chief of Surgery position at Johns Hopkins Hospital. He accepted only if Vivien would be his research technician.

The move to Baltimore from Nashville was difficult for Vivien and his family. They faced even more discrimination. But as Gwendolyn Hooks writes: “Vivien refused to let the prejudice of others interfere with his work.”

alfred_blalock_and_helen_taussig

Drs. Blalock and Taussig

Dr. Helen Taussig, a pediatric cardiologist asked Dr. Blalock if he could devise a procedure for her young heart patients. The procedure would involve open-heart surgery. Dr. Blalock gave the assignment to Vivien.

Vivien studied the hearts of blue babies in a pathology museum. He noted the defects that prevented blue blood from entering the lungs for oxygenation. He decided that a procedure that he and Dr. Blalock had tried at Vanderbilt would be the answer.

A shunt would connect an artery from the heart with an artery going to the lungs. Vivien next made a small needle. It could be used on babies to suture the arteries. Then Vivien successfully performed the procedure on animals.

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Vivien Thomas Stands Behind Dr. Blalock

The first procedure on a baby was conducted on November 29, 1944. Vivien stood on a stool behind Dr. Blalock directing the successful operation. Over 150 times, he stood behind Dr. Blalock. He answered the doctor’s questions while the doctor performed the surgery . The procedure became known as the Blalock-Taussig shunt.

The Drs. Blalock and Taussig received national and international recognition. They were nominated for a Nobel prize. But Vivien Thomas’s name was never mentioned.

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Vivien Thomas’s Portrait At Johns Hopkins

It wasn’t until 1971, that Vivien Thomas was publicly recognized for his contribution to medical science. Today, his portrait hangs in the Blalock Building at Johns Hopkins directly across the hall from Dr. Blalock’s portrait. In 1976, Johns Hopkins University honored Vivien Thomas with an honorary Doctor of Laws degree.

With author Gwendolyn Hooks’s book Tiny Stitches, children can read and learn about Vivien Thomas a dedicated medical researcher. He overcame racial prejudice to save the lives of “blue babies.” Visit Gwendolyn Hooks at: http://gwendolynhooks.com

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Vivien Thomas

To learn more, visit Johns Hopkins at: http://www.medicalarchives.jhmi.edu/vthomas.htm

Jason Wright, a future Ken Burns, narrates this wonderful video.

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Filippo Brunelleschi, Pippo the Fool

Author Tracey E. Fern climbed the 463 steps to the top of the Duomo in Florence, Italy. She “wondered how such an enormous structure could have been built in the fifteenth century.”

Researching the Duomo, she found Filippo Brunelleschi. She wrote Pippo The Fool, about how Filippo, considered a fool, constructed a masterpiece. 

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The Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore/The Duomo

Filippo, an architect without formal training, entered a competition that changed his life and the city of Florence.

In 1418, the Florence wool merchant’s guild decided to solve a problem. The Duomo’s construction begun in 1296, had never been finished. No one knew how to construct a dome without buttresses and Gothic arches for support. In Florence, both were thought to be undesirable. The existing walls also required an octagonal shape.  How could a stable eight-sided dome be built?

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Filippo Brunelleschi

The guild held a competition for architects with the winner building the dome. Filippo Brunelleschi’s idea seemed the best. He designed an interior and exterior dome. Expensive wooden scaffolds were not needed. But Filippo would not tell anyone how he would construct the dome. He thought his idea would be stolen. Filippo seemed both stubborn and foolish — Pippo the Fool. 

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The people in charge of the project hired Filippo. But they required that well-known architect Lorenzo Ghiberti work on the project with him. Lorenzo had lost to Filippo in the competition. Now Filippo was forced to work with Lorenzo.

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But it was Filippo, without Lorenzo’s help, who actually constructed the dome. He invented complex machines. They lifted heavy sandstone beams and over four million bricks above the Cathedral. These machines were unique. According to National Geographic, “…they weren’t rivaled until the industrial revolution.”

Filippo designed the dome’s brickwork in a herringbone pattern. This added stability. His design used a lighter interior and exterior two-dome design. This worked where a heavier single-dome design might have failed.

Completed in sixteen years, the dome stands today. It is a testament to the genius of Filippo Brunelleschi. 

How was the dome constructed? Learn how in this National Geographic video.

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Statue of Filippo Brunelleschi Gazing Up At His Dome

To Learn More About Filippo’s Dome, Visit:

http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2014/02/il-duomo/mueller-text

You may also like: Books For Kids: Inventors https://www.barbaralowell.com/books-for-kids-inventors

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Jacques Cousteau

Jacques Cousteau, a man of many talents, was a scientist, inventor, naturalist, explorer, writer, and filmmaker. He had a profound sense of wonder and curiosity about the world. An expert on sea life, he championed its preservation.

When Jacques was a child in France, he loved movies. He saved his allowance and bought a movie camera. With it, he filmed his own movies. They starred his friends, family, and even himself. Later, Jacques served in the French Navy. With his camera along, he traveled the world filming everything he saw.

In 1936, a friend gave Jacques a pair of swim goggles. Jacques swam underwater with them. For the first time he saw brilliantly colored fish and fascinating underwater plants and animals. But he could only stay underwater for a brief time. He wanted the ability to breathe and explore freely. 

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Jacques worked with an engineer and in 1943, he invented Scuba — Self-Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus. Now he could breathe underwater like a fish. With his camera protected by a waterproof case he filmed the underwater world.

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Jacques converted a former Navy mine-sweeper into an ocean going laboratory. He named his ship Calypso. Jacques traveled the world exploring and filming underwater. He captured sea life in over 115 films and in 50 books. He shared his adventures with people everywhere.

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To learn more, visit: The Cousteau Society at: http://www.cousteau.org

Books For Kids:

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Manfish: A Story of Jacques Cousteau

by Jennifer Berne

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The Fantastic Undersea Life of Jacques Cousteau

 by Dan Yaccarino

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