This May has been a great month for STEM! From the wide world of inventors, to the stars above, there’s been something of interest for the science minded student! Before May wraps up, there’s just one more thing to do.
Flip a switch, crack open a book, till the soil, or find a telescope — it’s time for a second foray through the fabulous history of inventions! Start off with Johannes Gutenberg (Complete-#51, 5-#23), then catch up on Galileo Galilei (Complete-#165, 5-#24, STEM-#5) from earlier this month! Once your students are warmed up, look below for the introduction of another innovative inventor!
Shine a (Neon) Light on . . .
. . . one of the most important inventors of the 19th and 20th centuries! Nikola Tesla was born July 10, 1856. While Tesla’s name lives on in inventions like the Tesla Coil today, he was barely recognized in his time. One of Tesla’s first experiences in the field of invention was at age 26, working at the Edison Continental Company, for fellow inventor Thomas Edison (Complete-#162, 5-#16, STEM-#9)!
Unfortunately for Tesla, he would spend much of his early inventing career exploited and edged out of markets. Take one of the most essential inventions of the modern world: the alternating current! In Tesla’s time, New York City’s power grid was simply uninterested in funding his project.
Through Great Adversity
Throughout history, the life of an inventor has rarely been easy. The inventors with the greatest impacts were those with the grit to strive ever onward! Take Galileo Galilei, highlighted in last week’s post. If your students’ minds are set on the stars, take a (virtual!) trip to get a closer look at Galileo’s laboratory and materials through the Museo Galileo in Florence!
While Tesla and Gutenberg faced down exploitative business practices, Galileo faced down the Roman Inquisition. In the end, inventions such as Galileo’s telescope, the movable-type printing press, and alternating current received the celebration they deserved among the greatest inventions in history.
Crack Open a Book . . .
Looking for some more books for kids this month? See if students recognize who they have to thank. Much like Nikola Tesla, Johannes Gutenberg was little recognized in his time. Exploited by his business partners, his name was stripped from his project — the printing press — until six years before his death! Without the movable-type printing press, we’d still be writing books by hand!
Start off with Barbara Lowell’s suggested kids’ books on Inventors. For more on Thomas Edison’s employee (and greatest rival), read up on Nikola Tesla! Lastly, there’s no harm returning to the stars . . . and some reading about Galileo Galilei!
. . . and Set the Type!
Whether you’re reading one of the books above, or accessing this blog post, you’re using technology made possible by Johannes Gutenberg! Try this Homemade Printing Press activity to simulate Gutenberg’s greatest work! Or take a virtual look at the Gutenberg Bible . . . provided you can read Latin!
Rounding off, here are a few ways to engage with Gutenberg’s technology — albeit a modernized version — in the spirit of learning about inventors! Try this printable scientists and inventors crossword puzzle, a printable worksheet, or this word search!
Interested in other inventors? Check out The Walking Classroom’s Leonardo da Vinci Educational Podcast Bundle, and be on the lookout for additional topics (and more ideas!) in future posts.