Peanuts, Presidents, the Pentagon...and Chap Stick? Inventions, Inventors, and Virginia!

26 February 2016


Peanuts, Presidents, the Pentagon…and Chap Stick???
Inventions, Inventors and Virginia!

When students in Virginia are asked to name things for which the state is famous, certain topics immediately come to mind.

Presidents?  Absolutely!  Virginia is the birthplace of eight presidents.

Peanuts?  Most certainly!  Virginia peanuts are famous and can be found on grocery shelves from coast to coast.

The military?  Of course!  Historic battles of both the Revolutionary War and the Civil War were fought in Virginia.  In modern times, Virginia is home to Langley Air Force Base, the Atlantic Fleet, and the Pentagon.

But Chap Stick? Microphones?  Swivel Chairs? 
Hold on!  Maybe it is time to rethink the list for the Commonwealth of Virginia?

Going back to colonial times, Virginia has been home to many amazing inventions.  George Washington established the first patent grant, and Thomas Jefferson was the first patent examiner.  Our third president was also a prolific inventor, and is credited for designing a plow for hillsides, a machine to make macaroni, a wheel cipher for writing and deciphering messages in code, a mechanical copying machine, the folding ladders, a gravity powered clock, and the swivel chair.
But what about some of the other inventors who don’t roll off the tongue as easily? To discover the names of other Virginia inventors, travel to Old Town Alexandria and you will find the Inventors Hall of Fame. Here are some of the inventors that you will meet:


Virginia Inventors
Whether you want to explore Virginia inventers or inventors in general, there are many helpful resources to help you.
Located in Old Town Alexandria, Virginia, The National Inventors Hall of Fame celebrates American inventors from colonial to current times.
Also located in Old Town Alexandria, the US Patent and Trademark’s site’s online K-12 outreach materials include activities, trading cards, and other great resources.
The Smithsonian’s Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation is an extraordinary exhibit and lab. Check out the website for research materials, contests, and rich resources.
We love Kids Discover materials and their magazine Inventions is excellent. The teacher guide is free to download and is filled with ideas.

 Don’t forget the budding inventors in your classroom.
Maker Spaces to the Rescue!

                                                 STEM Sparks- Maker Space Task Cards

 Inspire your students to do their own inventions by adding a maker space to your classroom or library.  We have two sets of maker space task cards that provide just the right amount of  “ what if…?” to have your kids try their hand at inventing.


Finally, check out this contest for inventors. Deadline for entries is in March so get your student busy doing brain push-ups. Who knows? You might have the next Thomas Edison or Grace Hopper sitting right in your classroom!

We hope you “Get Caught Engineering”!
Wendy and Cheryl

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